Thirty-three years ago, in February 1987astronomers watched the explosion of a massive star, marking the birth of the closest supernova to Earth in history. The phenomenon was named "Supernova 1987A" (SN 1987A). The giant explosion took place far enough, not even in our Galaxy, at a distance of 170 thousand light years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The supernova was so bright that observers from Earth could see the bright spot of the explosion for several weeks.
However, not only aesthetic pleasure fromgiant explosion presented to earthlings SN 1987A. Astronomers have an unprecedented opportunity to track shockwave behavior in space and investigate the causes of supernovae. Astronomers were able to observe the propagation of a shock wave from a powerful explosion, its movement and interaction with dust clouds surrounding the explosion site.
It remained a mystery for scientists to find out whatremained in the center of a supernova explosion. After a detailed analysis of the photographs taken from the Chilean Atacama Observatory (ALMA), astronomers came close to solving the problem. According to the new hypothesis, a neutron star is hidden behind a dusty blanket at the center of SN 1987A.
In the photo from space at the epicenter of formationthe supernova recorded a hot "drop", which, according to scientists, is a cloud of gas hiding a neutron star. It is not possible to detect visually a star at a distance of 170 thousand light years due to its too small size. It is already known that neutron stars have a mass of only 1.4 times the mass of our Sun and are compressed to a radius of 25 kilometers.
Revealing a giant luminous cloud in the form of a drop,at the center of SN 1987A, scientists have suggested that a neutron star is lurking in the dust cloud, heating matter and making it glow. The length of the shining, teardrop-shaped cloud was about 4000 astronomical units, where one astronomical unit is equal to the average distance from the Earth to the Sun. The cloud temperature is about 5 million degrees Celsius.
The next challenge facing astronomersis to determine whether the neutron star, dubbed NS 1987A, is a pulsar that periodically emits a powerful directional radio beam as it rotates, or whether it will remain an ordinary neutron star.