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Supernova 1987A: Blob hides long-searched remains from starburst

This Hubble Space Telescope image shows Supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud.Image copyright
NASA / ESA / R.Kirshner and others


This Hubble Space Telescope image shows Supernova 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Scientists believe they eventually traced the remains of one of their favorite starbursts, Supernova 1987A.

Astronomers knew that the object should exist, but they always tried to locate it because of an uncertain dust cover.

Now, a team led by the UK thinks the place where the rest is stored can be determined precisely by heating that powder.

Researchers call it "block" of interest.

Professor Haley Gomez of Cardiff University told BBC News, "It's much hotter than its surroundings, the blob needs some explanation. It really stands out from the heaps of dust."

"We think it's heated by the hot neutron star created in Supernova."

When the telescopes first detected the explosion in 1987, it caused great excitement.

In the Great Magellanic Cloud, about 168,000 light years from Earth – the explosion was the closest and brightest supernova seen in the night sky in 400 years.

Therefore, when they ran out of fuel, they experienced what we thought we knew about the stars and a catastrophic collapse.

Image copyright


The team used the Alma plant to inspect dust and gas at the heart of Supernova 1987A.

Thirty years later, astronomers routinely observe Supernova 1987A and its constantly evolving form.

It's a matter of beauty – a series of shiny rings that represent the bands of gas and dust that the star throws in its dying phases and are excited by the expanding shock waves emitted in the current explosion.

One of these rings resembles a series of pearls, and at the heart of this celestial jewel, scientists think they are now positioning the rest of the star.

There must be a dense object that consists entirely of neutron particles and measures only a few kilometers. However, its thick cloud of dust is perhaps 30 times the size of our Solar System, making it impossible for the neutron star to see directly.

"If you want, we can see the reversible light. The warm neutron star heats the dust grains and as they absorb this energy – they shine at wavelengths below millimeters."

The team is researching interest using data from Europe's now-terminated Herschel space telescope and the international Atacama Large Millimeter Array (Alma) facility in Chile.

Specifically, Alma shows that the block is also located in a region that is missing from the carbon monoxide (CO) molecules. The CO is destroyed in the same heating process, possibly causing the dust to shine.

Unfortunately, it is difficult to be more explanatory about the neutron star because of the dust cover, but the group expects it to change over time.

"Maybe in 50 to 100 years – dust needs to be released to reveal this hot, energetic neutron star that everyone has been looking for for 30 years," Prof Gomez told BBC News. Said.

Astronomers are interested in supernovas because they are integral to the evolution of the Universe.

The explosions set off the environment, gravitationally collapsing nearby gas clouds and giving birth to new stars. The dust from the supernovas also seeds the cosmos with the heavier elements leading to the construction of rocky planets.

An article was published in the Journal of Astrophysics, detailing the new findings. Dr. Phil Cigan of Cardiff, the lead author.

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