The dawn of a new era for supernova 1987A
Three decades ago, astronomers spotted one of the brightest exploding stars in more than 400 years. The titanic supernova, called Supernova 1987A (SN 1987A), blazed with the power of 100 million suns for several months following its discovery on Feb. 23, 1987. Since that first sighting, SN 1987A has continued to fascinate astronomers with its spectacular light show. Located in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, it is the nearest supernova explosion observed in hundreds of years and the best opportunity yet for astronomers to study the phases before, during, and after the death of a star. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of SN 1987A, new images, movies, a data-based animation and a 3-D model are being released. By combining data from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory, as well as the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array, astronomers--and the public--can explore SN 1987A like never before.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Angelich (NRAO); Hubble Credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation); Chandra Credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/K. Frank et al.; ALMA Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) and R. Indebetouw (NRAO/AUI/NSF)