NASA is celebrating the anniversary of SN 1987A. This is the first supernova to be spotted by scientists in 1987. It is also one of the closest observed supernovae. For its 30th anniversary, NASA released new data which might be very fascinating to the public.
SN 1987A or Supernova 1987A has been fascinating scientists ever since it was first spotted. This happened back in 1987, on February 23. Following its detection, the supernova continued to blaze for several months. Its power was compared to that of some 100 million suns.
SN 1987A was a supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It occurred on the outskirts of the Tarantula Nebula. And astronomers detected its explosion as it was one of the brightest such events to take place in over 400 years.
Its closeness to our planet is yet another contributing fact. Thanks to it, astronomers were first able to spot it almost with the naked eye. And then to continue researching and studying the event. As it is, SN 1987A is quite as fascinating today as it was 30 years ago.
And in order to properly celebrate its 30th anniversary, NASA scientists have released new data. This includes new images and a 3D model. And also a time-lapse movie and a data-based animation. This latter was based on research led by Salvatore Orlando from the INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Italy.
These new data are based on the combined observations coming from 3 sources. One is the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. Another is the Chandra X-Ray Observatory. And last but not least, ALMA or the International Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array.
Their observations may open up the road for astronomers and also the interested public. They will now have the opportunity of exploring SN 1987A like never before.
Supernova 1987A is the largest such explosion observed and recorded in recent memory. The last titanic supernova observed on Earth occurred in 1604. As such, SN 1987A offered and is presenting an incredible chance.
It is the as yet best opportunity to study the phases of a dying star. They can analyze both the state before its death, as well as during the event. And they can also study the consequences and after-effects of the death of a star.
Over these past 30 years of observations, astronomers have gathered an impressive database. Hubble alone collected over hundreds of images. And these years of observations are very important, according to scientists. They help provide insight into the last days of a star. And on the final stages of stellar evolution.
A supernova is held as the last evolutionary stage in the life of a star. During such an event the star explodes giving birth to a ‘new’ star. This will continue brightening the sky for some time before it too begins to fade.
SN 1987A, which is situated some 160,000 light years away from Earth, is considered the most studied supernova. And according to the newest data, it may have also passed an important threshold.
The latest observations detected that the supernova’s shock wave is moving beyond the former star’s dense ring of gas. This was produced sometime late in the life of the star before it reached the supernova status. Presently, scientists do not know exactly what lies beyond this ring. But they are confident that it depends on the evolution of the star from when it still a red giant.
Gathering details on this transition will offer additional details. These could help astronomers better understand the life and death of this ‘doomed’ star.
The 30th-anniversary visuals can be found on the NASA official website. Some of them are based on simulations developed by Salvatore Orlando and his collaborators.
Image Source: Wikimedia