The Nearest Supernova Of Our Lifetime Turns 30, And Still Shines
“The supernova light brightened and then dimmed, but the surrounding gas, blown off from the supergiant, remains illuminated by radiation.
As shockwaves from the explosion move outwards, they collide with interstellar material, producing brightening rings of material.”
In February of 1987, the first light from a supernova some 168,000 light years away was observed on Earth. It became the closest supernova to be observed since the invention of the telescope. As a result, it’s taught us more about massive star death, ejecta and supernova remnant evolution than any other object in the Universe. Illuminated outer rings showcase ejection events that occurred prior to the final death of the star; continued brightening teach us the rate of expansion of the supernova remnant; the lack of a neutron star at the core teaches us about the power of dust to obscure even radio light from this object. Perhaps most interestingly, neutrinos were observed from this supernova, arriving nearly three hours before the light did, confirming that they move through a star unimpeded, unlike light.
Does this strange dark ball look somehow familiar? If so, that might be because it is our Sun. In the featured image from 2012, a detailed solar view was captured originally in a very specific color of red light, then rendered in black and white, and then color inverted. Once complete, the resulting image was added to a starfield, then also color inverted. Visible in the image of the Sun are long light filaments, dark active regions, prominences peeking around the edge, and a moving carpet of hot gas. The surface of our Sun can be a busy place, in particular during Solar Maximum, the time when its surface magnetic field is wound up the most. Besides an active Sun being so picturesque, the plasma expelled can also become picturesque when it impacts the Earth’s magnetosphere and creates auroras.
Little Planet Astro Camp : Day and night on this little planet look a lot like day and night on planet Earth. In fact, the images used to construct the little planet projection, a digitally warped and stitched mosaic covering 360x180 degrees, were taken during day and night near Tarjn, Hungary, planet Earth. They span a successful 33-hour-long photo experiment at Julys Hungarian Astronomical Association Astro Camp. The time-series composite follows the solar disk in 20 minute intervals from sunrise to sunset and over six hours of star trails in the northern night sky centered on the North Celestial Pole near bright star Polaris. The orbiting International Space Station traced the offset arc across the northern night. Below the little planets nightside horizon, red light lamps of fellow astro-campers left the night-long, dancing trails. via NASA
Not just one, but seven Earth-size planets that could potentially harbor life have been identified orbiting a tiny star not too far away, offering the first realistic opportunity to search for signs of alien life outside the solar system.
The planets orbit a dwarf star named Trappist-1, about 40 light-years, or 235 trillion miles, from Earth. That is quite close in cosmic terms, and by happy accident, the orientation of the orbits of the seven planets allows them to be studied in great detail.