Report

Observing Supernova 1987A with the Refurbished Hubble Space Telescope

Science  24 Sep 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5999, pp. 1624-1627
DOI: 10.1126/science.1192134

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Abstract

Observations with the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), conducted since 1990, now offer an unprecedented glimpse into fast astrophysical shocks in the young remnant of supernova 1987A. Comparing observations taken in 2010 with the use of the refurbished instruments on HST with data taken in 2004, just before the Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph failed, we find that the Lyα and Hα lines from shock emission continue to brighten, whereas their maximum velocities continue to decrease. We observe broad, blueshifted Lyα, which we attribute to resonant scattering of photons emitted from hot spots on the equatorial ring. We also detect N v λλ1239, 1243 angstrom line emission, but only to the red of Lyα. The profiles of the N v lines differ markedly from that of Hα, suggesting that the N4+ ions are scattered and accelerated by turbulent electromagnetic fields that isotropize the ions in the collisionless shock.

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