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News Release Archive:

News Release 602 of 951

February 16, 2000 12:00 AM (EST)

News Release Number: STScI-2000-11

Onset of Titanic Collision Lights Up Supernova Ring

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Image: Supernova 1987A Ring Blazes Back to Life

Supernova 1987A Ring Blazes Back to LifeSTScI-PRC2000-11

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ABOUT THIS IMAGE:

[Left]
This NASA Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 image shows the glowing gas ring around supernova 1987A, as seen on February 2, 2000. The gas, excited by light from the explosion, has been fading for a decade, but parts of it are now being heated by the collision of an invisible shockwave from the supernova explosion.

[Right]
Image processing is used to emphasize four new bright knots of superheated gas discovered in the February 2 Hubble observations. The brightest knot, at the far right, was seen in 1997. Astronomers have been waiting several years to see more of the ring light-up as the supernova shockwave smashes into it. This is the first definitive sign of the full onset of a dramatic and violent collision which will continue over the next few years, rejuvenating SN1987A as a powerful source of X-ray and radio emissions.

Both images were made in visual light. Computer image processing techniques were used to enhance details in the ring.

Object Name: SN 1987A

Image Type: Astronomical/Illustration

Credit: NASA, Peter Challis and Robert Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Peter Garnavich (University of Notre Dame), and the SINS Collaboration

NEWS RELEASE IMAGES

The above montage includes these images:

Gas Ring Around Supernova 1987A -- Feb. 2, 2000 Image Type: Astronomical Gas Ring Around Supernova 1987A -- Feb. 2, 2000 Supernova 1987A -- 1997 Image Type: Astronomical Supernova 1987A -- 1997

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