Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters




Supernova 1987A's nebula (colored ring) is now filling with exploding spots (mostly in red) as the supernova destroys it.
Supernova Lights Up Expanding Ring
by Hannah Fairfield
New York - February 16, 2000 - For the first time in history, scientists are now able to see the details of a supernova remnant in the making. Astronomers from Columbia University have discovered a new brightening of the circumstellar ring around a supernova, indicating that supernova ejecta have finally begun to collide with a shell of gas blown out by the star earlier in its lifetime.

The activity was sighted on Dec. 25, 1999, by a team of Columbia astrophysicists, Stephen Lawrence, Arlin Crotts, Ben Sugerman, and Robert Uglesich, led by Patrice Bouchet of the National Science Foundation's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO).

A "hot spot" that appeared in the circumstellar ring around the supernova in 1997 was believed to be the first impact of supernova ejecta, but no other activity sites had been observed until the CTIO and Columbia team sighted this one in December.

The new hot spot is about the same brightness as the first was when it was originally found. Other, fainter impact sites are present in their observations. The scientists also determined that the original hot spot had brightened significantly since their last observation over a year ago.

"The first collision of ejecta may have been a jet of material striking the circumstellar ring, shocking the gas into emission, much like bullets hitting a target," said Crotts, a Columbia professor of astronomy.

"Now the entire ring is beginning to be engulfed with shocked material from the supernova, lighting up the ejecta and circumstellar material as a supernova remnant. We have observed many examples of supernova remnants--for example, the Crab Nebula--but all were formed long ago. We have never before seen one in the making in any meaningful degree of detail," added Crotts.

The significance of the newly discovered hot spots is that they are not confined to a single location, but are distributed around the circumstellar ring.

The distribution around the ring indicates that a large fraction of the ejected material is finally colliding with the whole ring, instead of a fast moving "bullet" of ejecta making a single hot spot.

If so, this is the beginning the long awaited formation of a supernova remnant. Other teams making follow-up observations with the Hubble Space Telescope in late January and early February have confirmed the new hot spot and found a number of other faint, new impact sites. These other hot spots are also found in the CTIO data, at a more subtle level.

The CTIO observations used an innovative imaging system on the National Science Foundation's Blanco 4-m telescope that achieved better spatial resolution than is commonly possible from ground-based observatories.

The CTIO system tips and tilts the secondary mirror of the telescope to take the "twinkle" out of starlight, producing steadier, sharper images. They also used a novel image processing technique developed by the Columbia team.

Supernova 1987A occurred when the star known as Sanduleak -69o 202 ended its life in a gigantic explosion, which was observed on earth on February 23, 1987, and became known as supernova 1987A.

While the radiation from that explosion traveled out at the speed of light, material from the star itself was ejected at a much lower speed, some tens of millions of miles per hour.

This material is now beginning to catch up and collide with material blown out some twenty thousand years earlier by the star in a relatively gentle, slow, cool stellar wind.

This collision of supernova ejecta with the wind material, now forming the circumstellar shell, was predicted to occur sometime between 1995 and 2010.

  • Columbia University

    SPACE SCIENCE
    Earth Size Radio Scope Spys Supernova
     Manchester - December 8, 1999 - British radio astronomers have used a telescope the size of the earth to peer into the heart of a nearby galaxy where they have found the scattered remains of stars that have torn themselves apart in catastrophic explosions.




    Thanks for being here;
    We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

    With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

    Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

    If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

    SpaceDaily Contributor
    $5 Billed Once


    credit card or paypal
    SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
    $5 Billed Monthly


    paypal only






    Memory Foam Mattress Review
    Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
    XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News








  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2016 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement All images and articles appearing on Space Media Network have been edited or digitally altered in some way. Any requests to remove copyright material will be acted upon in a timely and appropriate manner. Any attempt to extort money from Space Media Network will be ignored and reported to Australian Law Enforcement Agencies as a potential case of financial fraud involving the use of a telephonic carriage device or postal service.