Supernova 1987A!

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  06 May 1988:
Vol. 240, Issue 4853, pp. 750-759
DOI: 10.1126/science.240.4853.750


Light from the brightest supernova in almost 400 years arrived at Earth on 23 February 1987. Although located 160,000 light years away in a satellite galaxy of our own known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, this supernova's relative proximity compared to all others that have been observed in modern times has allowed observations, which were never possible before, to be made from space, from detectors on the ground and carried by balloons and airplanes, and from neutrino detectors deep underground. What emerges is a greater understanding of one of the most violent events in the universe, the death of a massive star. For the most part, theoretical expectations have been borne out, but some major surprises have made the event all the more fascinating.