A String of 'Cosmic Pearls' Surrounds an Exploding Star

Stsci_2009-18j_1024

stsci_2009-18j April 21st, 2009

Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Challis and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

Two decades ago, astronomers spotted one of the brightest exploding stars in more than 400 years. Since that first sighting, the doomed star, called Supernova 1987A, has continued to fascinate astronomers with its spectacular light show. NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is one of many observatories that has been monitoring the blast's aftermath. This image shows the entire region around the supernova. The most prominent feature in the image is a ring with dozens of bright spots. A shock wave of material unleashed by the stellar blast is slamming into regions along the ring's inner regions, heating them up, and causing them to glow. The ring, about a light-year across, was probably shed by the star about 20,000 years before it exploded. Astronomers detected the first bright spot in 1997, but now they see dozens of spots around the ring. Only Hubble can see the individual bright spots. In the next few years, the entire ring will be ablaze as it absorbs the full force of the crash. The glowing ring is expected to become bright enough to illuminate the star's surroundings, providing astronomers with new information on how the star expelled material before the explosion. The pink object in the center of the ring is debris from the supernova blast. The glowing debris is being heated by radioactive elements, principally titanium 44, created in the explosion. The debris will continue to glow for many decades. The origin of a pair of faint outer red rings, located above and below the doomed star, is a mystery. The two bright objects that look like car headlights are a pair of stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The supernova is located 163,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The image was taken in December 2006 with Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys.

Provider: Space Telescope Science Institute

Image Source: https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2009/news-2009-18

Curator: STScI, Baltimore, MD, USA

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

Image Details

Image Type
Observation
Object Name
SN 1987A
Subject - Local Universe
Star > Evolutionary Stage > Supernova

Distance

Universescale2
163,000 light years
Stsci_2009-18j_128
 

Position Details

Position (ICRS)
RA = 5h 35m 28.1s
DEC = -69° 16’ 10.9”
Orientation
North is 6.2° CCW
Field of View
0.1 x 0.1 arcminutes
Constellation
Dorado

Color Mapping

  Telescope Spectral Band Wavelength
Blue Hubble (ACS/HCR) Optical (B) 435.0 nm
Green Hubble (ACS/HCR) Optical (V) 555.0 nm
Red Hubble (ACS/HCR) Optical (R) 625.0 nm
Spectrum_base
Blue
Green
Red
Stsci_2009-18j_1280
×
ID
2009-18j
Subject Category
C.3.1.8  
Subject Name
SN 1987A
Credits
NASA, ESA, P. Challis and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)
Release Date
2009-04-21T00:00:00
Lightyears
163,000
Redshift
163,000
Reference Url
https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2009/news-2009-18
Type
Observation
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Distance in lightyears
Facility
Hubble, Hubble, Hubble
Instrument
ACS/HCR, ACS/HCR, ACS/HCR
Color Assignment
Blue, Green, Red
Band
Optical, Optical, Optical
Bandpass
B, V, R
Central Wavelength
435, 555, 625
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
ICRS
Equinox
2000.0
Reference Value
83.86705661416, -69.26968479675
Reference Dimension
655.00, 512.00
Reference Pixel
308.61965296590, 327.21570376788
Scale
-0.00000346584, 0.00000346584
Rotation
6.17900744233
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 FITS X FITS Y EPO X EPO Y 580.68 621.68 178.90 181.73 726.79 707.45 488.50 319.51 699.70 616.78 415.16 146.55 703.93 796.86 462.41 504.06 Center Pixel Coordinates: 327.50 83.86694695971 256.00 -69.26993395130
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-p0918j-f-655x512.tif
Resource URL
https://mast.stsci.edu/api/latest/Download/file?uri=mast:OPO/product/STSCI-H-p0918j-f-655x512.tif
Related Resources
http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2009/18
Metadata Date
2022-07-06T00:00:00
Metadata Version
1.2
×

 

Detailed color mapping information coming soon...

×
Universescalefull
163,000 light years