In BriefTo celebrate the 30th anniversary of the discovery of a supernova explosion, an array of pictures and videos have been released showing the stunning beauty still visible today.
30 years ago today, a supernova explosion was spotted in the southern hemisphere skies. The exploding star was located in the Large Magellanic Cloud — a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way – and Supernova 1987A was the brightest and nearest supernova explosion for modern astronomers to observe. This has provided an amazing opportunity to study the death of a star.
Telescopes around the world and in space have been keeping an eye on this event, and the latest images show the blast wave from the original explosion is still expanding, and it has plowed into a ring expelled by the pre-supernova star. The latest images and data reveal the blast is now moving past the ring.
Got a 3-D printer? You can print out your own version of SN1987A! Find the plans here.
Here are a few animations and images of SN1987A over the years:
Astronomers estimate that the ring material was ejected about 20,000 years before the actual explosion took place. Then, the initial blast of light from the supernova illuminated the rings. They slowly faded over the first decade after the explosion, until the shock wave of the supernova slammed into the inner ring in 2001, heating the gas to searing temperatures and generating strong X-ray emission.
The observations by Hubble, Chandra, and telescopes around the world has shed light on how supernovae can affect the dynamics and chemistry of their surrounding environment, and continue to shape galactic evolution.
— Kim Kowal Arcand (@kimberlykowal) February 24, 2017