Astronomers obtain 3D view of stellar explosion
The Very Large Telescope showed that the blast more concentrated in one particular direction.
Washington: Astronomers have obtained a three-dimensional view of the distribution of the innermost material expelled by a recently exploded star.
The Very Large Telescope showed that the blast more concentrated in one particular direction – indicating that the supernova must have been very turbulent.
Supernova 1987A was the first naked-eye supernova to be observed for 383 years (eso8704), and because of its relative closeness, it has made it possible for astronomers to study the explosion of a massive star and its aftermath in more detail than ever before.
It provided several notable observational ‘firsts’, like the detection of neutrinos from the collapsing inner stellar core triggering the explosion and the localisation on archival photographic plates of the star before it exploded.
The first material to be ejected from the explosion travelled at an incredible 100 million km per hour, which is about a tenth of the speed of light or around 100 000 times faster than a passenger jet.
“Just how a supernova explodes is not very well understood, but the way the star exploded is imprinted on this inner material,” said Karina Kjær.
“Because we know the time that has passed since the explosion, and because the material is moving outwards freely, we can convert this velocity into a distance. This gives us a picture of the inner ejecta as seen straight on and from the side,” Kjær added.