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Supernova 1987A

Supernova, type II, in the Large Magellanic Cloud in Dorado

[SN 1987A, AAT]
Right Ascension 05 : 35 : 27 (h:m:s)
Declination -69 : 16.2 (deg:m)
Distance 169 (kly)
Visual brightness +2.9 (mag, max)
Spectral type SN type II

The star Sanduleak -69 202, out about 169,000 light years in the Large Magellanic Cloud, ended its life in a firy spectacle about 167,000 B.C. (give or take up to a few 1000 years). The light from this explosion arrived at Earth after a journey of 169,000 light years, thus 169,000 years later, on February 23, 1987.

Supernova 1987A was the nearest observed supernova since Kepler's Supernova of 1604, which occured before the invention of the telescope. Supernova 1987A, peculiar and of type II, was one of the most interesting objects for the astrophysicists in the 1980s (some even say of this century).

In the image displayed here, superimposed to the AAT image of supernova 1987A, taken shortly after its occurrance and two month before it reached its maximum brightness, is an older negative of the region immediately around the supernova, so that the progenitor star can be identified (as Sanduleak -69 202).

Our image was obtained by David Malin with the Anglo-Australian Telescope and is copyrighted © Australian Astronomical Observatory.

  • More on this image (labelled AAT 48b, by David Malin)
    Same image without negative overlay

  • Large Magellanic Cloud

    Hartmut Frommert
    Christine Kronberg

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    Last Modification: March 11, 2004