On February 24, 1987, an unexpected cosmic explosion rocked the astronomical community. Called Supernova 1987A (SN 1987A), the event is the closest supernova to Earth observed since the invention of the telescope. SN 1987A exploded in the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 170,000 light-years from Earth. It was so bright that observers could see it for several weeks.
The extraordinary spectacle of a nearby supernova is not the only thing that SN 1987A has given us. The event also allowed astronomers to investigate what triggers supernovae as well as study the propagation of their blast waves. In fact, even today we can see the shockwave from SN 1987A still moving, interacting with the dust clouds surrounding the original space explosion site.
Analyzing images obtained from the Atacama Observatory (ALMA) in Chile, we managed to find out what was left after this large-scale event.
Scientists have seen a hot “spot” inside the core of a supernova – probably a gas cloud enveloping a neutron star. The star itself was too small to be detected directly – its mass is only 1.4 times the mass of the Sun inside a sphere only 24.142 km in diameter.
The largest spot length is about 4000 astronomical units (one astronomical unit is equal to the average distance from the Earth to the Sun – ed. Tekhkult), and the temperature is about 5 million degrees Celsius.
Time will pass before the existence of a new star in this place is confirmed. The dust and gas around the supernova must calm down so that astronomers can confidently say that this fantastically young star is indeed exists.