Invited Review

An earlier explosion date for the Crab Nebula supernova

Helmut A. Abt, John W. Fountain


Abstract The Chinese first reported the Crab Nebula supernova on 1054 July 5. Ecclesiastical documents from the near east reported it in April and May of 1054. More than 33 petroglyphs made by Native Americans in the US and Mexico are consistent with sightings both before and after conjunction with the Sun on 1054 May 27. We found a petroglyph showing the new star close to Venus and the Moon, which occurred on 1054 April 12 and April 13, respectively. Collins et al., using the four historical dates, derived a light curve that is like that of a Type Ia supernova. The only remaining problem with this identification is that this supernova was near maximum light for 85 d, which is unlike the behavior of any known supernova.


Keywords celestial mechanics — history and philosophy of astronomy — stars: supernovae: individ- ual (Crab Nebula)

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