Washington, Sept 4 (ANI): A new study led by the University of Colorado at Boulder has revealed that observations made with NASA's newly refurbished Hubble Space Telescope of a nearby supernova are allowing astronomers to measure the velocity and composition of 'star guts' being ejected into space following the explosion.
The astronomers detected significant brightening of the emissions from Supernova 1987A, which were consistent with some theoretical predictions about how supernovae interact with their immediate galactic environment.
Discovered in 1987, Supernova 1987A is the closest exploding star to Earth to be detected since 1604 and resides in the nearby Large Magellanic loud, a dwarf galaxy adjacent to our own Milky Way Galaxy.
The team observed the supernova in optical, ultraviolet and near-infrared light, charting the interplay between the stellar explosion and the famous 'String of Pearls,' a glowing ring 6 trillion miles in diameter encircling the supernova remnant that has been energized by X-rays.
The gas ring likely was shed some 20,000 years before the supernova exploded, and shock waves rushing out from the remnant have been rightening some 30 to 40 pearl-like "hot spots" in the ring-objects that likely will grow and merge together in then coming years to form a continuous, glowing circle.
"The new observations allow us to accurately measure the velocity and composition of the ejected 'star guts,' which tell us about the deposition of energy and heavy elements into the host galaxy," said CU-Boulder Research Associate Kevin France of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, lead study author.
"The new observations not only tell us what elements are being recycled into the Large Magellanic Cloud, but how it changes its environment on human time scales."
The study was published in the Sept. 2 issue of Science. (ANI)