Astronomers combined observations from three different observatories to produce this colorful, multiwavelength image of the intricate remains of Supernova 1987A.
The red color shows newly formed dust in the center of the supernova remnant, taken at submillimeter wavelengths by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) telescope in Chile.
The green and blue hues reveal where the expanding shock wave from the exploded star is colliding with a ring of material around the supernova. The green represents the glow of visible light, captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The blue color reveals the hottest gas and is based on data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The ring was initially made to glow by the flash of light from the original explosion. Over subsequent years the ring material has brightened considerably as the explosion’s shock wave slams in it.
Supernova 1987A resides 163,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, where a firestorm of star birth is taking place.
Image credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Angelich (NRAO/AUI/NSF)
Hubble credit: NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation)
Chandra credit: NASA/CXC/Penn State/K. Frank et al.
ALMA credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO) and R. Indebetouw (NRAO/AUI/NSF)