Recent HST obervations show a brightening knot on the upper righthand corner of this image. This is the site of the collision between the outward moving blast wave and the innermost circumstellar ring.
Click on image for full size
Image courtesy of Hubble Space Telescope

Titanic Stellar Explosion
News story originally written on March 4, 1998

Shock waves from supernova explosion collide with gas ring!! Traveling at 40 million mph, a wave of energy released in a supernova explosion observed over a decade ago has begun to collide with a ring of gas surrounding the site of the explosion.

The supernova explosion was first observed in Chile on February 23, 1987 by Canadian astronomer Ian Shelton. Although the star actually blew up in approximately 165,000 BC, the light from the explosion had just arrived at Earth. This is the closest supernova in 400 years.

The ring of gas around the explosion was formed before the star exploded. Now, the force of the explosion is reaching the inside edge of the ring. As the debris from the supernova hits the ring at extreme speeds, the temperature of the ring increases from a few thousand degrees to a million degrees Farenheit. In a few years, the entire ring should have lit up. The illuminated ring is expected to light up the surrounding space, shedding light on matter that was previously too dark to see.

Astronomers are expecting to be able to answer questions about the supernova's past, such as what type of star caused the explosion, and reveal details about the strange gas rings surrounding the supernova.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, ranging from seismology, rocks and minerals, oceanography, and Earth system science to astronomy!

Windows to the Universe Community

News

Opportunities

You might also be interested in:

Traveling Nitrogen Classroom Activity Kit

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

1999--A Year in Review...

It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more

STS-95 Launch: "Let the wings of Discovery lift us on to the future."

The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center at 2:19 p.m. EST, October 29th. The sky was clear and the weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit for the Unitied...more

Moon Found Orbiting Asteroid

A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more

U.S. is Fed Up with Russia

Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials are demanding an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting...more

More on Recent Coronal Mass Ejection

During a period of about two days in early May, 1998, the ACE spacecraft was immersed in plasma associated with a coronal mass ejection (CME). The SWICS instrument on ACE, which determines unambiguously...more

Mother Nature's Air Conditioning

J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service has referred to forests as the "heart and lungs of the world." Forests reduce soil erosion, maintain water quality, contribute to atmospheric humidity and cloud...more

Planetary Alignment 2002

In late April through mid-May 2002, all five naked-eye planets are visible simultaneously in the night sky! This is includes Mercury which is generally very hard to see because of its proximity to the...more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF