Supernova 1987A and Sanduleak -69°202
AAO image references AAT 48a and 48b (overlay).    « Previous || Next »

Supernova 1987A and its precursor, Sanduleak -69 202, supernova1987a.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 8 arc min
Image and text © 1988-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.
Mouse-over the image to see it with a pre-supernova overlay

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.

Related Images
AAT 48.   The Tarantula Nebula and supernova 1987a in the Large Magellanic Cloud
AAT 49.   The Tarantula Nebula in the LMC, before supernova SN1987A
UKS 15b. The Tarantula Nebula in the LMC, before and after supernova SN1987A
AAT 50.   Supernova 1987A, before and after images
AAT 66.   The light echo of supernova 1987A
AAT 67.   Supernova 1987a after 4 years
Constellation of Dorado (external site)

For details of photographic exposure, search technical table by AAT reference number

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1