Artistic representation of the supernova 1987A. Figure: ESO / L. Calçada
Reading aloud Astronomers have for the first time succeeded in depicting the innermost part of a supernova in three dimensions: The Supernova 1987A took place 23 years ago and was the first star explosion visible to the naked eye for 383 years. An important contribution to the reconstruction of this event was provided by images of the Very Large Telescope (VLT), located at 2, 635 meters in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. The footage points to a huge explosion in which large quantities of matter were thrown into space? but not symmetrical, explains study author Karina Kjær from Northern Ireland's Queen's University Belfast. In about five billion years, the sun will initially inflate to a red giant after the consumption of their hydrogen fuel and then contract to a dwarf star. A comparatively unspectacular death. On the other hand, massively rich stars explode in the form of a supernova at the end of their lives. The astronomers around Karina Kjær have for the first time intensively observed and reconstructed such a tremendous explosion. The focus was on the Supernova 1987A from the Large Magellanic Cloud, a neighboring galaxy of the Milky Way.

"We determined the distribution of velocities in the innermost material ejections of the supernova 1987A, " explains Kjær. Accordingly, the detonation hurled the material at 100 million kilometers per hour to the outside. This corresponds to one tenth of the speed of light or 100, 000 times the speed of a passenger aircraft. However, the material took ten years to reach the outer ring of gas and dust that the star had ejected before his death. "Another material wave inside the supernova is still being heated up by radioactive elements, " the scientists report. This ejecta material is currently spreading at a speed of around 10 million kilometers per hour.

How exactly a supernova is formed, the astronomers do not know, but previous computer models of supernovae had already explained an asymmetric course for likely. The current observations of the Supernova 1987A in the 3-D model directly confirm this assumption for the first time. A prerequisite for 3-D reconstruction was the SINFONI (Spectrograph for Integral Field Observations in the Near Infrared) instrument, which uses so-called integral field spectroscopy to generate spatially resolved spectra, allowing scientists to simultaneously observe different areas in the chaotic central region of the supernova.

Press releases of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg and the European Southern Observatory ESO (European Southern Observatory), Garching Karina Kjær (Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland) et al .: Astronomy and Astrophysics, No. 519 ddp / ? David Köndgen ad


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