In mid-September, NuSTAR obtained deep observations of SN 1987A one of the brightest stellar explosions since Galileo first pointed a telescope into the night sky more than 400 years ago. The supernova was first seen in February 1987, and has been extensively studied ever since. Pictured here is an image obtained with the High Resoluton Channel of the Hubble Space Telescope's Advanced Camera for Surveys. NuSTAR, detecting high-energy X-rays emitted by the explosion remnants, has much lower resolution than Hubble, but provides important and unique additional information.
The supernova belongs to the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf companion galaxy to our own Milky Way Galaxy, only 168,000 light-years away. SN 1987A is an example of a "core collapse" supernova, meaning it resulted from the death throes of a young, isolated, extremely massive star. With NuSTAR, we hope to detect 44-Ti emission from the SN 1987A explosion remnant, which is an important diagnostic of the explosion physics.
Image credit: NASA/Hubble.