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More Images of Supernova 1987A
1
Click for large jpg Wide-Field Optical Image of SN 1987A
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Wide-Field Optical Image of SN 1987A
Thirty years ago on February 24, 1987, observers in the southern hemisphere noticed a new object in the Large Magellanic Cloud. Today, we know this object as Supernova 1987A, and it was one of the brightest supernova seen in hundreds of years. Coupled with its relative proximity at about 160,000 light years from Earth, Supernova 1987A became one of the best opportunities ever for astronomers to study the phases before, during, and after the death of a star. This wide-field view from Hubble shows a large area around SN 1987A.
(Credit: NASA/STScI)
2
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X-ray, Optical & Submillimeter Images of SN 1987A Close-up
SN 1987A was first seen in the Large Magellanic Cloud by observers in the southern hemisphere on February 24, 1987. It was the nearest supernova explosion seen in modern times and provides astronomers the best opportunity ever to study the phases before, during, and after the death of a star. The close-up images of SN 1987A show X-rays from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, visible light data from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, and submillimeter wavelength data from the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile.
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO/PSU/K.Frank et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI; Millimeter: ESO/NAOJ/NRAO/ALMA)
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Chandra X-ray Images of SN 1987A Over Time
From 1999 until 2013, Chandra data showed an expanding ring of X-ray emission that had been steadily getting brighter. This was produced by the blast wave from the original explosion that had been bursting through and heating the ring of gas surrounding the supernova. In the past few years, there have been striking changes in the Chandra data. This provides evidence that the explosion's blast wave has moved beyond the ring into a region with less dense gas. This represents the end of an era for SN 1987A. Since astronomers do not know exactly lies beyond the ring, they will be watching carefully what happens next.

View the time-lapse movie

(Credit: NASA/CXC/SAO/PSU/K. Frank et al.)
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X-ray and Optical Image (cropped) of SN 1987A
This composite image shows the effects of a powerful shock wave moving away from the explosion. Bright spots of X-ray and optical emission arise where the shock collides with structures in the surrounding gas. These structures were carved out by the wind from the destroyed star. Hot-spots in the Hubble image (pink-white) encircle Supernova 1987A like a necklace of incandescent diamonds. Chandra data (blue-purple) reveals multimillion-degree gas at the location of the optical hot-spots. These data give valuable insight into the behavior of the doomed star in the years before it exploded.
(Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/PSU/S.Park & D.Burrows.; Optical: NASA/STScI/CfA/P.Challis)
5
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Illustration of SN 1987A
This artist's illustration of SN 1987A shows the effects of the supernova's blast wave as it collides with a ring of surrounding gas (white and blue circles). Chandra detects X-rays from gas heated by this collision. A flash of ultraviolet light from the explosion energized the gas in the ring, producing a ring of optical light that the Hubble Space Telescope has observed for decades. ALMA detected the cold, inner regions of the exploded star's remains (in red) containing tremendous amounts of dust.
(Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/Alexandra Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF))
6
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3D Print of SN 1987A (red/blue)
This photograph shows a 3D print of the SN 1987A supernova remnant at its current observed age of 30 years, based on 3D simulations by Salvatore Orlando. The blast wave from the supernova has crashed into a pre-existing ring of gas, throwing blobs of this gas upwards and downwards. Small blobs of gas that were disconnected from other blobs or from the ring were removed from the model to improve ease of printing, using 3D animation software and using Ultimaker's Cura software to slice the STL files, with support structures turned on. This photo shows prints with two different colors, including support structures that have to be manually removed. The remaining parts of the ring are clearly visible in red in the print on the right. Using the Ultimaker 3 printer these models took about 15 hours to print.

Stereolithography Files (.stl): Combined, Ring, and Ring Debris

(Credit: Salvatore Orlando (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo) & NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Jubett et al.)
7
Click for large jpg 3D Print of SN 1987A (silver)
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3D Print of SN 1987A (silver)
This photograph shows a 3D print of the SN 1987A supernova remnant at its current observed age of 30 years, based on 3D simulations by Salvatore Orlando. The blast wave from the supernova has crashed into a pre-existing ring of gas, throwing blobs of this gas upwards and downwards. Small blobs of gas that were disconnected from other blobs or from the ring were removed from the model to improve ease of printing, using 3D animation software and using Ultimaker's Cura software to slice the STL files. Here, dissolvable support structures were used, and the photo shows the model after the support structures were dissolved. Using the Ultimaker 3 printer with dissolvable supports at 0.1 mm resolution this model took about 40 hours to print.

Stereolithography Files (.stl): Combined, Ring, and Ring Debris

(Credit: Salvatore Orlando (INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo) & NASA/CXC/SAO/A.Jubett et al.)


Supernova 1987a (February 24, 2017)