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The supernova remnant IC 443 has earned the nickname of the Jellyfish Nebula due to its distinctive shape. The Jellyfish Nebula, lying about 5,000 light years from Earth, is the remnant of a supernova that occurred over 10,000 years ago. Astronomers have been searching for the spinning neutron star, or pulsar, that may have formed in the explosion that created the Jellyfish Nebula. New Chandra observations show that a peculiar object, called J0617, may indeed be this pulsar.

When a massive star runs out of fuel, it implodes, and a dense stellar core, called a neutron star, is formed. The outer layers of the star collapse toward the neutron star then bounce outward in a supernova explosion. If the neutron star produces a beam of radiation and is rotating, it is called a pulsar, because pulses of radio waves and other types of radiation can be detected as the object spins.

The X-ray brightness of J0617 and its X-ray spectrum, that is, the amount of X-rays at different wavelengths, are consistent with the profiles from known pulsars. The spectrum and shape of the diffuse, or spread out, X-ray emission surrounding J0617 and extending well beyond the ring also match with expectations for a wind flowing from a pulsar.

While certain questions remain about this system, this latest research provides promise that astronomers may finally determine exactly what spawned the Jellyfish Nebula.
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(Credit: NASA/CXC/A. Hobart)

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