Science

Supernova 1987 Still Fascinates Three Decades After

By Jose Paolo Calcetas , Feb 09, 2017 10:25 AM EST
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Almost three decades may have passed, but Las Campanas telescope operator Ian Shelton cannot forget the evening of February 23, 1987. He was enjoying the telescope view from the heavens in a remote part of the Atacama Desert in Chile. He spent three hours taking pictures of majestic stars and heavenly bodies that astound him.

After deciding to call it a night, he took his 8 x I0 glass plate photograph to bring it to the dark room. He then compared his newly-developed photograph to an image he shot the previous night. Then, he noticed that there is a star that has just appeared. He went outside to check if the star was present in the sky. He was astounded to see it with own eyes. It exuded a bright light, highlighting the Large Magellanic Cloud within the outskirts of the Milky Way. Shelton and his group recognized the ‘bright entity’ in the sky “Supernova.”

Science News reported that Shelton and his team witness the explosion of a star called by experts as “Supernova 1987A.” The site further added that this is the nearest supernova visible to the naked eye from the Earth. The last explosion seen from our planet was recorded some four centuries ago since the time of Galileo.
Astronomers further estimated that an explosion occurs in the Milky Way every 30 to 50 years. This spectacular phenomenon is nothing new since a star is always exploding somewhere within the roughly 2 trillion galaxies within the universe, there’s almost always a star exploding somewhere. The most recent explosion was in 1604 at about 166,000 light-years. Recently, scientists have discovered a new supernova called the Type 1ax.

IFLScience reports that a striking stellar object called GK Persei exploded. It was regarded as the brightest star for a few days prior to its waning. More than I00 years ahead, scientists were able to prove that what they have witnessed was a mini-supernova explosion which transpired 1,500 years ago.

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