The Tarantula Nebula, before supernova SN1987A
AAO image reference AAT 49.    « Previous || Next »

The Tarantula Nebula (NGC 2070), before supernova SN1987A, tarantula_nebula.jpg
Top left is NE. Image width is about 28 arc min
Roll mouse over picture to see the supernova
Image and text © 1987-2010, Australian Astronomical Observatory, photograph by David Malin.

By great good fortune, the star Sanduleak -69°202 that exploded as the supernova had been observed some years previously and was found to be a typical young, bluish star, much hotter and brighter than stars like the Sun. There are many similar stars in this part of the LMC which is dominated by the spectacular red cloud of the Tarantula Nebula, seen here at upper left. It in such nebulae that stars are formed, often in compact groups such as those scattered across this photograph, which was taken in 1984, before the supernova appeared.

The difference in image quality (seeing) between this picture and AAT 48 is an effect of the Earth's atmosphere which was steadier when the plates used to make this picture were taken. Roll your mouse over the main image to see AAT 48 superimposed. A similar pair of images made with the UK Schmidt Telescope are seen here.

Related Images
AAT 48.    The Tarantula Nebula and supernova 1987a in the Large Magellanic Cloud
AAT 48b.  Supernova 1987A, the star, in March 1987
AAT 50.    The Tarantula Nebula, before and after supernova SN1987A
UKS 15b.  Before and after images of SN1987A
AAT 66.    The light echo of supernova 1987A
AAT 67.    Supernova 1987a after 4 years
Constellation of Dorado (external site)

For details of photographic exposure, search technical table by AAT reference number

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Updated by David Malin, 2010, August 1