Hubble Space Telescope Captures A New Image Of the Historic Bright Supernova

First Posted: Mar 04, 2017 03:51 AM EST

NASA/ESA's Hubble Space Telescope captured a new image of the historic supernova remnant known as Supernova 1987A in January 2017. Its massive star explosion was first observed in 1987 and surprisingly still visible as of today, after 30 years.

Supernova 1987A was one of the brightest observed and closest to Earth. This provides the opportunity for the astronomers to examine the phases before, during and after the death of the star. In celebration of the 30th anniversary of SN 1987A, the researchers released new images time-lapse videos and animation of the supernova, according to Fox News.

ESA officials said that because of its early detection and relative proximity to Earth, SN 1987A has become the best studied supernova ever. They further said that prior to SN 1987A, their knowledge of supernovae was simplistic and idealized.

On the other hand, by studying the evolution of SN 1987A from supernova to supernova remnant in superb detail, using telescopes in space and on the ground, astronomers have gained revolutionary insights into the deaths of massive stars. They also said that Hubble was the first to see the event in high resolution and clear image the structure of the supernova.

The historic SN 1987A is about 160,000 lightyears away from Earth and located in a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way referred to as the Large Magellanic Cloud. It could be seen with the naked eye and visible from the South Hemisphere. The brightness of this supernova peaked in May 1987 with an apparent magnitude of about 3 and gradually declined in the following months.

The astronomers could study the supernova in detail with it. This includes the radioactive source of energy for visible light emissions by detection of predicted gamma-ray line radiation from two of its abundant radioactive nuclei.

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