Supernova 1987A over time

This montage shows the evolution of the supernova 1987A between 1994 and 2016, as seen by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The supernova explosion was first spotted in 1987 and is among the brightest supernova within the last 400 years. Hubble began observing the aftermath of the explosion shortly after it was launched in 1990.

The growing number of bright spots on the ring was produced by an onslaught of material unleashed by the explosion. The shock wave of material hit the ring’s innermost regions, heating them up, and causing them to glow. The ring, about one light-year across, was probably shed by the star about 20,000 years before the star exploded.


NASA, ESA, and R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation) and P. Challis (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

About the Image

Release date:24 February 2017, 16:00
Related releases:heic1704
Size:1620 x 840 px

About the Object

Name:SN 1987A
Type:Milky Way : Star : Evolutionary Stage : Supernova
Distance:170000 light years

Image Formats

r.titleLarge JPEG
355.6 KB
r.titleScreensize JPEG
157.9 KB


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