Release 962 of 1,061
Hubble Provides Clearest View Yet of Supernova 1987a
Release date: Jan 14, 1994 12:00 AM (EST)
Release type: American Astronomical Society Meeting

This series of images of Supernova 1 987A was taken with ESA's Faint Object Camera aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, prior to and following the HST Servicing Mission. The images demonstrate the dramatic improvement in Hubble's capabilities following the installation of the Corrective Optics Space Telescope Axial Replacement (COSTAR), which compensates for spherical aberration in Hubble's primary mirror. The new picture has provided the most detailed closeup view ever obtained of the exploding star and its surroundings. Since SNi1987A first appeared in the southern sky nearly seven years ago (February 24, 19871, the outer envelope of the exploding star has been expanding into space at many thousands of kilometers per second. To follow the evolution of the ejecta, astronomers have observed SN 1 987A a total of six times with the FOC -- from just after HST's launch in 1990 to just before the HST Servicing mission in December 1993.