Supernova 1987A


Right ascension:    5:35:50.2   Magnitude:  4.8
    Declination:  -69:17:59

Image:  LWP 10191   
 Date:  1987 Feb 24 23:22 UT (large aperture)
                    23:27 UT (small aperture)

Exposure duration:  1.3 sec (large aperture)
                      5 sec (small aperture)

Image:  SWP 30376
 Date:  1987 Feb 24 20:53 UT (large aperture)
                    20:58 UT (small aperture)

Exposure duration:  10 sec (each aperture)

Supernova 1987A was the closest supernova since the invention of the telescope in the early 1600s. It was produced by the core collapse and rebound of the blue supergiant star Sanduleak -69 202 in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a companion galaxy about 160,000 light-years away. 1987A was discovered by observers at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile; short wavelength spectra were obtained by IUE only 17 hours after discovery, and long wavelength spectra were taken two hours later. Spectra were taken through both apertures for each wavelength range, producing two spectra per image. The broad absorption around 1700 Å is due to triple-ionized carbon (C IV), while that near 2600 Å is from singly-ionized magnesium (Mg II). The Doppler shift of the Mg II feature from its expected position indicates that the shell of material thrown off by 1987A was moving at about 36,000 km/s, about 12% the speed of light.
Last updated: 08 April 1998
Obtained from IUE project at Goddard Space Flight Center