Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2019 February 24
Explanation: Can you find supernova 1987A? It isn't hard -- it occurred at the center of the expanding bullseye pattern. Although this stellar detonation was first seen in 1987, light from SN 1987A continued to bounce off clumps of interstellar dust and be reflected to us even many years later. Light echoes recorded between 1988 and 1992 by the Anglo Australian Telescope (AAT) in Australia are shown moving out from the position of the supernova in the featured time-lapse sequence. These images were composed by subtracting an LMC image taken before the supernova light arrived from later LMC images that included the supernova echo. Other prominent light echo sequences include those taken by the EROS2 and SuperMACHO sky monitoring projects. Studies of expanding light echo rings around other supernovas have enabled more accurate determinations of the location, date, and symmetry of these tremendous stellar explosions. Yesterday marked the 32nd anniversary of SN 1987A: the last recorded supernova in or around our Milky Way Galaxy, and the last to be visible to the unaided eye.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.