Optical image of supernova 1987A

Optical image of supernova 1987A


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Supernova 1987A. True-colour optical image of supernova 1987A (centre) and the Tarantula nebula (NGC 2070, upper left). These features are in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy which lies around 170,000 light years away. The supernova became visible on 23rd February 1987, as a giant star exploded at the end of its life. It provided astronomers with valuable data about star death. The Tarantula nebula is one of the largest and most powerful nebula known. An enormous region of ionised hydrogen gas, it is over 300 times larger than the great nebula in Orion. This image was produced by digitally combining photographs taken by the UK Schmidt Telescope in blue and red light.

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