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Supernova 1987a: Caption, Credits, and Copyright

Supernova 1987a Before, After, Closeup

Left: The Tarantula Nebula in the LMC, pre-supernova (AAT 49)
By great good fortune, the star (Sanduleak -69 202, arrowed) which exploded as the supernova had been observed some years previously and was found to be a typical young, bluish star, much hotter and brighter than stars like the Sun. There are many similar stars in this part of the LMC which is dominated by the spectacular red cloud of the Tarantula Nebula. It is in such nebulae that stars are formed, often in compact groups such as those scattered across this photograph, which was taken in 1984. [ D. Mal in]

Center: The Tarantula Nebula and supernova 1987a (AAT 48)
The brightest star in this picture is the first supernova to be visible to the unaided eye for almost 400 years. It occurred in a region rich in young, blue stars and it was one of these which destroyed itself. When this picture was taken, about 2 weeks a fter the supernova was discovered, the expanding shell of material had already changed from blue to orange-red as it cooled. The location of the supernova in the LMC means that it can only be seen from the southern hemisphere. It also means that the rapid changes which are expected to occur in the spectrum of the object can be observed throughout the year since the LMC is always above the horizon of the AAT. [ D. Malin]

Right: Close-up of supernova 1987a (AAT 48a)
The brightest star in the colour photograph is supernova 1987A, photographed with the AAT two months before it reached its maximum brightness. [ D. Malin]

Courtesy David Malin, Anglo-Australian Observatory
Anglo-Australian Telescope Board, 1984, 1987

The copyright of these images is the property of the Anglo-Australian Telescope Board, though the images are often for convenience credited Anglo-Australian Observatory. They are made available here for personal use only. Any commercial use of these pic tures (including mirroring on bulletin boards or other WWW sites) requires the written permission of the copyright holders. Contact cc@aaoepp.aao.gov.au (Coral Cooksley) for information on reproduction rights and conditions or dfm@aaoepp.aao.gov.au (David Malin) for technical information.

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Copyright 1995: Board of Trustees, University of Illinois

NCSA. Last modified 11/8/95.