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Supernova 1987A, with precursor image overlaid.

Date created: 1987-03-11

Tags: supernova, AAT, SN1987A

The brightest star in the colour photograph is supernova 1987A, photographed with the AAT two months  before it reached its maximum brightness,  in early March, 1987. Superimposed in register on this image is a negative photograph of the region around the supernova copied from an AAT plate that was made in 1984, three years before the supernova appeared. The precursor star appears to be a peculiar shape only because its image is blended with those of two other stars that happen to lie in the same line of sight. Many similar blended images can be seen in the colour photograph. However, it was soon found that it was the brighter of the three that had exploded, and that was a star which had been previously observed and catalogued, as Sanduleak –69°202.

Photograph made from plates taken 1987 March 8 (overlay 1984 February 5). Top left is NE. Image width is about 8 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory