The Dawn of a New Era for Supernova 1987A

Stsci_2017-08_1024

stsci_2017-08 February 24th, 2017

Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), and M. Mutchler and R. Avila (STScI)

In February 1987, on a mountaintop in Chile, telescope operator Oscar Duhalde stood outside the observatory at Las Campanas and looked up at the clear night sky. There, in a hazy-looking patch of brightness in the sky the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a neighboring galaxy - was a bright star he hadn't noticed before.

That same night, Canadian astronomer Ian Shelton was at Las Campanas observing stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud. As Shelton was studying a photographic plate of the LMC later that night, he noticed a bright object that he initially thought was a defect in the plate. When he showed the plate to other astronomers at the observatory, he realized the object was the light from a supernova. Duhalde announced that he saw the object too in the night sky. The object turned out to be Supernova 1987A, the closest exploding star observed in 400 years. Shelton had to notify the astronomical community of his discovery. There was no Internet in 1987, so the astronomer scrambled down the mountain to the nearest town and sent a message to the International Astronomical Union's Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, a clearing house for announcing astronomical discoveries.

Since that finding, an armada of telescopes, including the Hubble Space Telescope, has studied the supernova. Hubble wasn't even in space when SN 1987A was found. The supernova, however, was one of the first objects Hubble observed after its launch in 1990. Hubble has continued to monitor the exploded star for nearly 30 years, yielding insight into the messy aftermath of a star's violent self-destruction. Hubble has given astronomers a ring-side seat to watch the brightening of a ring around the dead star as the supernova blast wave slammed into it.

Provider: Hubble Space Telescope | STScI

Image Source: http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-08

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

Image Use Policy: http://hubblesite.org/copyright/

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
SN 1987A
Subject - Milky Way
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Supernova

Distance

Universescale2
168,000 light years
Stsci_2017-08_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 5h 35m 28.1s
DEC = -69° 16’ 10.7”
Orientation
North is 10.7° CCW
Field of View
2.4 x 2.7 arcminutes
Constellation
Dorado

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Red Hubble (WFC3) Optical (H-alpha) 657.0 nm
Red Hubble (WFPC2) Optical (I) 814.0 nm
Green Hubble (WFPC2) Optical (V) 555.0 nm
Blue Hubble (WFPC2) Optical (B) 439.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Red
Red
Green
Blue
Stsci_2017-08_1280
×
ID
2017-08
Subject Category
B.3.1.8  
Subject Name
SN 1987A
Credits
NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), and M. Mutchler and R. Avila (STScI)
Release Date
2017-02-24
Lightyears
168,000
Redshift
168,000
Reference Url
http://hubblesite.org/news_release/news/2017-08
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Hubble, Hubble, Hubble, Hubble
Instrument
WFC3, WFPC2, WFPC2, WFPC2
Color Assignment
Red, Red, Green, Blue
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
H-alpha, I, V, B
Central Wavelength
657, 814, 555, 439
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
83.86711987888, -69.26964270469
Reference Dimension
3667.00, 4024.00
Reference Pixel
1791.46187685754, 2028.35941589309
Scale
-0.00001102840, 0.00001102840
Rotation
10.66227749501
Coordinate System Projection:
TAN
Quality
Full
FITS Header
Notes
World Coordinate System resolved using PinpointWCS 0.9.2 revision 218+ by the Chandra X-ray Center
Creator (Curator)
STScI
URL
http://hubblesite.org
Name
Space Telescope Science Institute Office of Public Outreach
Email
outreach@stsci.edu
Telephone
410-338-4444
Address
3700 San Martin Drive
City
Baltimore
State/Province
MD
Postal Code
21218
Country
USA
Rights
http://hubblesite.org/copyright/
Publisher
STScI
Publisher ID
stsci
Resource ID
STSCI-H-p1708a-f-3667x4024.tiff
Metadata Date
2018-04-11T15:26:24-04:00
Metadata Version
1.2
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Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

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Universescalefull
168,000 light years