Astronomers Think They’ve Found the Neutron Star Remnant Left Behind from Supernova 1987A - Universe Today
Feb 26, 2021 1 min, 0 secs

It was the brightest supernova in nearly 400 years when it lit the skies of the southern hemisphere in February 1987.

Supernova 1987A – the explosion of a blue supergiant star in the nearby mini-galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud – amazed the astronomical community.

After the supernova faded, astronomers expected to find a neutron star (a hyper-dense, collapsed stellar core, made largely of neutrons) left-over at the heart of the explosion.

In the 34 years since, astronomers have been searching, unsuccessfully, for the missing neutron star.

Or perhaps the blue supergiant’s mass was larger than expected, and the supernova created a black hole instead of a neutron star.

Perhaps the neutron star was hidden, obscured by dust from the explosion.

What they’ve found is an X-Ray emission near the core of the supernova explosion, with two possible explanations.

It may be a decade or more before the core of the supernova clears out enough to observe the pulsar directly, but for the first time in 30 years, astronomers can be fairly confident that it is there.

So with a 30-year-old mystery solved, and plenty of new science to do in the years and decades ahead, Supernova 1987A promises to keep our attention.


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