sn-1987a

9

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.

Come get the full story in some amazing pictures, videos and under 200 words of text on today’s Mostly Mute Monday!

The Tarantula Nebula : The Tarantula Nebula is more than a thousand light-years in diameter, a giant star forming region within nearby satellite galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 180 thousand light-years away. The largest, most violent star forming region known in the whole Local Group of galaxies, the cosmic arachnid sprawls across this spectacular composite view constructed with space- and ground-based image data. Within the Tarantula , intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are other star forming regions with young star clusters, filaments, and blown-out bubble-shaped clouds In fact, the frame includes the site of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A, at the lower right. The rich field of view spans about 1 degree or 2 full moons, in the southern constellation Dorado. But were the Tarantula Nebula closer, say 1,500 light-years distant like the local star forming Orion Nebula, it would take up half the sky. via NASA

js
9

Supernovae Glow For Decades Thanks To Radioactivity

“In 1987, the closest supernova was observed since humans last saw one with our naked eyes in 1604. A rush of neutrinos and a flash of light illuminated the heavens as a stellar core imploded, blowing off the massive star’s outer layers. While a supernova brightens, reaches a peak and fades away over a few months, SN 1987A has been visible for decades.”

When a very massive star reaches the end of its life, it runs out of burnable fuel. As a result, the core collapses, heats up and undergoes a runaway fusion reaction. While many heavy elements are formed and a tremendous amount of energy is released, the very core implodes, tearing apart the outer layers of the star in a supernova explosion. Although the final catastrophe lasts only seconds, the explosion is visible for months, with the afterglow remaining detectable for thousands of years. What was the cause of this lasting electromagnetic radiation? In the aftermath of supernova 1987A, the closest supernova of the past 100+ years, we’ve learned the answer: radioactive elements created in the explosion itself.

Come get the full story and a glorious array of pictures and videos on today’s Mostly Mute Monday!

This Tumblr’s Hubble week ends with the remnant of Supernova 1987A, photographed from 1994 to 2008 (at 656 or 658nm wavelengths).  In 2001, the ejecta from the supernova started colliding with the clumps of matter forming the smallest ring around the old star, causing the ring to get much brighter.  It’s interesting to watch it happen: some of those clumps must have been a little bit closer to the star than others, since the ring doesn’t all “light up” at once.

[Frames: Proposal ID 5203, 3 Feb 1994; Proposal ID 5753, 24 Sep 1994; Proposal ID 6020, 6 Feb 1996; Proposal ID 6437, 10 Jul 1997; Proposal ID 7434, 8 Jan 1999; Proposal ID 8243, 2 Feb 2000; Proposal ID 8648, 23 Mar 2001; Proposal ID 9114, 7 Dec 2001; Proposal ID 9114, 10 May 2002; Proposal ID 9428, 5 Jan 2003; Proposal ID 9992, 28 Nov 2003; Proposal ID 10263, 15 Dec 2004; Proposal ID 10549, 19 Nov 2005; Proposal ID 10867, 9 Dec 2006; Proposal ID 11181, 19 Feb 2008.]

3

SN 1987A was a supernova in the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby dwarf galaxy. As it was the first supernova discovered in 1987, it was labeled “1987A”. Its brightness peaked in May with an apparent magnitude of about 3 and slowly declined in the following months. It was the first opportunity for modern astronomers to see a supernova up close and observations have provided much insight into core-collapse supernovae.


This is one of the largest and most prolific star-forming regions near our Milky Way. Located about 160,000 light years away in the neighboring Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, the Tarantula nebula is sculpted by searing radiation and strong winds that comes from the massive stars at its center. If fact, it is estimated that at least 40 of these huge stars have gone supernova within the last 10,000 years including the most recent one, SN 1987a.

(Composite Image from Multiple Data Sources. Hubble Space Telescope, ESO, Amateur Data. Image Assembly and Processing : Robert Gendler and Roberto Colombari)

(NASA)  Shocked by Supernova 1987A
Image Credit: Hubble Space Telescope, NASA, ESA; Video compilation: Mark McDonald

Twenty five years ago, the brightest supernova of modern times was sighted. Over time, astronomers have watched and waited for the expanding debris from this tremendous stellar explosion to crash into previously expelled material. A clear result of such a collision is demonstrated in the above time lapse video of images recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope between 1994 and 2009. The movie depicts the collision of an outward moving blast wave with the pre-existing, light-year wide ring. The collision occurred at speeds near 60 million kilometers per hour and shock-heats the ring material causing it to glow. Astronomers continue to study the collision as it illuminates the interesting past of SN 1987A, and provides clues to the origin of the mysterious rings.

A star set to explode

Floating at the centre of this new Hubble image is a lidless purple eye, staring back at us through space. This ethereal object, known officially as [SBW2007] 1 but sometimes nicknamed SBW1, is a nebula with a giant star at its centre. The star was originally twenty times more massive than our Sun, and is now encased in a swirling ring of purple gas, the remains of the distant era when it cast off its outer layers via violent pulsations and winds.

But the star is not just any star; scientists say that it is destined to go supernova! 26 years ago, another star with striking similarities went supernova — SN 1987A. Early Hubble images of SN 1987A show eerie similarities to SBW1. Both stars had identical rings of the same size and age, which were travelling at similar speeds; both were located in similar HII regions; and they had the same brightness. In this way SBW1 is a snapshot of SN1987a’s appearance before it exploded, and unsurprisingly, astronomers love studying them together.

At a distance of more than 20 000 light-years it will be safe to watch when the supernova goes off. If we are very lucky it may happen in our own lifetimes…

Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA; acknowledgement: Nick Rose

The Large Cloud of Magellan : The 16th century Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan and his crew had plenty of time to study the southern sky during the first circumnavigation of planet Earth. As a result, two fuzzy cloud-like objects easily visible to southern hemisphere skygazers are known as the Clouds of Magellan, now understood to be satellite galaxies of our much larger, spiral Milky Way galaxy. About 160,000 light-years distant in the constellation Dorado, the Large Magellanic Cloud is seen here in a remarkably deep, colorful, image. Spanning about 15,000 light-years or so, it is the most massive of the Milky Ways satellite galaxies and is the home of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A. The prominent patch below center is 30 Doradus, also known as the magnificent Tarantula Nebula, is a giant star-forming region about 1,000 light-years across. via NASA

js

SN 1987A

In mid-September, NuSTAR obtained deep observations of SN 1987A one of the brightest stellar explosions since Galileo first pointed a telescope into the night sky more than 400 years ago. The supernova was first seen in February 1987, and has been extensively studied ever since. Pictured here is an image obtained with the High Resoluton Channel of the Hubble Space Telescope’s Advanced Camera for Surveys. NuSTAR, detecting high-energy X-rays emitted by the explosion remnants, has much lower resolution than Hubble, but provides important and unique additional information.

The supernova belongs to the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf companion galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy, only 168,000 light-years away. SN 1987A is an example of a “core collapse” supernova, meaning it resulted from the death throes of a young, isolated, extremely massive star. With NuSTAR, we hope to detect 44-Ti emission from the SN 1987A explosion remnant, which is an important diagnostic of the explosion physics.

Image credit: NASA/Hubble

SN 1987a in the Large Magellanic Cloud

Glittering stars and wisps of gas create a breathtaking backdrop for the self-destruction of a massive star, called supernova 1987A, in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy. Astronomers in the Southern hemisphere witnessed the brilliant explosion of this star on Feb. 23, 1987. Shown in this NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image, the supernova remnant, surrounded by inner and outer rings of material, is set in a forest of ethereal, diffuse clouds of gas.

Image credit: Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI/NASA/ESA

Hubble Sees a Star Set to Explode

Floating at the center of this new Hubble image is a lidless purple eye, staring back at us through space. This ethereal object, known officially as [SBW2007] 1 but sometimes nicknamed SBW1, is a nebula with a giant star at its center. The star was originally twenty times more massive than our sun, and is now encased in a swirling ring of purple gas, the remains of the distant era when it cast off its outer layers via violent pulsations and winds.

But the star is not just any star; scientists say that it is destined to go supernova. Twenty-six years ago, another star with striking similarities went supernova — SN 1987A. Early Hubble images of SN 1987A show eerie similarities to SBW1. Both stars had identical rings of the same size and age, which were travelling at similar speeds; both were located in similar HII regions; and they had the same brightness. In this way SBW1 is a snapshot of SN1987a’s appearance before it exploded, and unsurprisingly, astronomers love studying them together.

At a distance of more than 20 000 light-years it will be safe to watch when the supernova goes off. If we are very lucky it may happen in our own lifetimes.

Credit: ESA/NASA, acknowledgement: Nick Rose.

Shocked by Supernova 1987A 

Twenty five years ago, the brightest supernova of modern times was sighted. Over time, astronomers have watched and waited for the expanding debris from this tremendous stellar explosion to crash intopreviously expelled material. A clear result of such a collision is demonstrated in the above time lapse video of images recorded by the Hubble Space Telescope between 1994 and 2009. The movie depicts the collision of an outward moving blast wave with the pre-existing, light-year wide ring. The collision occurred at speeds near 60 million kilometers per hour and shock-heats the ring material causing it to glow. Astronomers continue to study the collision as it illuminates the interesting past of SN 1987A, and provides clues to the origin of the mysterious rings.

The Tarantula zone

The Tarantula Nebula is more than 1,000 light-years in diameter, a giant star forming region within our neighboring galaxy the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). That cosmic arachnid lies toward the upper left in this deep and colorful telescopic view made through broad-band and narrow-band filters. The image spans nearly 2 degrees (4 full moons) on the sky and covers a part of the LMC over 8,000 light-years across. Within the Tarantula (NGC 2070), intense radiation, stellar winds and supernova shocks from the central young cluster of massive stars, cataloged as R136, energize the nebular glow and shape the spidery filaments. Around the Tarantula are other violent star-forming regions with young star clusters, filaments, and bubble-shaped clouds In fact, the frame includes the site of the closest supernova in modern times, SN 1987A, just above center. The rich field of view is located in the southern constellation Dorado.

Image credit & copyright: Marco Lorenzi