M1, or the Crab Nebula, is the remains of an enourmous explosion which occured in 1054. Since then the gas and dust thrown off in the explosion has been expanding out in a giant shell-like structure. The remnant of the exploded star is known as a pulsar, a very dense compact star spinning many times a second.

This image was taken as part of the 2 Micron All-Sky Survey (2MASS). This survey was carried out at a wavelength of 2 microns which lies in a part of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the near infra-red.

This image shows the warm gas in the nebula and is quite similar to the optical picture.

Image credit: 2MASS