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The evolving supernova remnant 1987A

In early 1987, those in the southern hemisphere were rewarded with the first naked eye supernova since that seen by Kepler in the 16th century. A supernova is a violent explosive death of a star. The supernova of 1987 was in our companion galaxy - the Large Magellanic Cloud. Above are images showing the evolution of the supernova remnant (dates given as a decimal year) from late 1992 to late 2000. The remnant is growing in size, but also brightening significantly -- the shock wave from the supernova explosion is starting to crash into material ejected in the death throes of the star. As this collision becomes more pronounced, we expect the remnant to become brighter still.

More images of supernova remnant 1987A

ATCA images by B. Gaensler, R. Manchester, L. Staveley-Smith, M. Kesteven, A. Tzioumis, N. Bizunok, V. Wheaton and J. Reynolds.

Original: Bob Sault (7-Jan-2003)
Modified: Bob Sault (8-Jan-2003)