Center for Magnetic Self Organization

in Laboratory and Astrophysical Plasmas

Supernova 1987A

Supernova 1987A
Size: 1.3 light years diameter (central ring)
Mass: 20 solar masses
Distance: 168,000 light years
Temperature: 30,000°C
Flow Speed: 16,000 mph
Location: In the constellation Dorado
Image Credit: ESA, Hubble, NASA


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The fiery “hula hoops” in Supernova 1987A are made of plasma and formed after a massive star exploded.

A supernova explosion occurs when a large, aging star uses up its fuel and can no longer produce enough energy through nuclear fusion to combat the crushing force of gravity, causing it to suddenly collapse into a white dwarf, neutron star, or even a black hole.

A National Science Foundation Physics Frontier Center,
established in coordination with the Department of Energy.