A supernova's shocking development | Science News


Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


A supernova's shocking development

5:34pm, November 22, 2002

Thirteen years ago, astronomers witnessed the brightest stellar explosion seen from Earth since the invention of the telescope. A supernova—the violent death of a massive star—had erupted in the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, only 160,000 light-years away. Because of the galaxy's proximity, scientists have had a field day tracking the unfolding saga of supernova 1987A.

Now, astronomers have for the first time imaged the full force of the shock wave hurled from the supernova. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has detected the gas surrounding the exploded star heated to 10 million kelvins by the shock wave's passage. The speeding wave is plowing into a ring of debris cast out by the star some 20,000 years before it exploded.

The Hubble Space Telescope had previously imaged hot

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content