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Supernova 1987A, the star, in March 1987

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. Roll your mouse over the image to see a negative image of the pre-supernova field superimposed in register This was made from an AAT plate that was exposed in 1985, two years before the supernova was seen to explode. 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 the brighter of the three 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.
Top left is NE. Image width is about 8 arc min.

Credit: David Malin

© Australian Astronomical Observatory