This is another image signed by Webb revealing new structures in the 'Iconic Supernova'
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Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 29 August 2023, at 09:42 am PDT
NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has captured images of the supernova SN 1987A in the Large Magellanic Cloud, about 168,000 light-years away. Since its discovery in February 1987, SN 1987A has been studied across the electromagnetic spectrum, from gamma rays to radio waves. The latest images, taken by Webb's Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), provide important information for understanding the evolution of a supernova.
The image shows a central structure that looks like a keyhole. This structure contains gas and dust that were expelled during the supernova explosion. The density of the cosmic dust makes it difficult to detect even with near-infrared light, creating the enigmatic "hole" within the keyhole.
Around the central structure is an equatorial ring that connects two outer rings that look like an hourglass. This low ring was created by material ejected tens of millennia before the supernova's explosion. The ring contains hotspots that materialize as the shockwave from the supernova collides with the ring. The hotspots extend beyond the ring and are accompanied by diffuse radiance. These domains show where the shockwaves of the supernova have hit with more peripheral matter.
The James Webb Space Telescope has discovered petite, crescent-like structures in a supernova remnant, which likely constitute a segment of the outermost layers of gas propelled outward by the supernova's tremendous explosion. While previous instruments captured glimpses of these structures, the unrivaled sensitivity and spatial precision of Webb allowed for a closer look. These crescents appear brighter than they actually are due to an optical phenomenon called limb brightening.
The high resolution of the images marks a watershed moment, as previous telescopes could not scrutinize the supernova with such acuity and precision. Webb's instruments will gather fresh, high-fidelity infrared data and collaborate with other observatories to uncover new insights into the structure of the supernova. One of the enduring mysteries is the anticipated neutron star formed in the aftermath of the supernova's explosion, which Webb aims to observe over time.