Supernova 1987A is the brightest of all supernovas ever discovered in 400 years and this year it will be thirty years since its discovery and commemorating this amazing find NASA has released a couple of videos giving you an opportunity to view the supernova in greater detail.
Discovered in 1987, the Supernova 1987A blazed with a power of 100 million suns for months after its discovery and this provided astronomers the opportunity to observe the supernova. Three years after its discovery, the Hubble Space Telescope started observing it and over the years has accumulated hundreds of images. Nine years later, the Chandra X-ray Observatory started observing the supernova and has also collected ample of data about the supernova. Eventually the international Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) also started observing 1987A.
Data combined from all these three telescopes has enabled NASA to draw a much more comprehensive picture of the supernova. Using all this data, NASA has released images, time-lapse movies, an animation, and three-dimensional model for people to explore the supernova like never before.
According to NASA recent data indicates that the supernova has passed an important threshold. As of now, the supernova shock wave is moving beyond the dense ring of gas produced late in the life of the pre-supernova star. Astronomers do not have a full understanding of what could be present beyond the ring and NASA says it depends on the details of the evolution of the star when it was a red giant.
As is the case with supernovas such as SN 1987A, they have the capability of stirring up the surrounding gas and eventually trigger the formation of new stars and planets. The gas from which these stars and planets form will be enriched with elements such as carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and iron, which are the basic components of all known life. These elements are forged inside the pre-supernova star and during the supernova explosion itself, and then dispersed into their host galaxy by expanding supernova remnants. Continued studies of SN 1987A should give unique insight into the early stages of this dispersal. Here’s the video once again, if you haven’t watched the one embedded above: