Gaseous Ring Around Supernova 1987A
HST has resolved, to an unprecedented detail of 0.1 arcsecond, a mysterious elliptical ring of material around the remnants of Supernova 1987A.
In this image, taken with the European Space Agency's Faint Object Camera on August 23, 1990, the ring appears as a yellow ellipse. The tightly knotted debris from the stellar explosion appears as a red blob near the center of the ring. The blue stars to the left and right of the ring are not associated with the supernova.
This raw image, not computer reconstructed, was made in the yellow light of doubly ionized oxygen (5007 angstroms). The blue and red color was added to reflect the object's true color.
The ring, located 160,000 light-years from Earth is destined to be a relatively short-lived structure. Expanding debris from the supernova will overtake and disintegrate the ring within a century.