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Remnant of Supernova 1987A
12" x 16"
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Remnant of Supernova A Photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope Wide Field Planetary Camera Supernovae are massive stellar explosions which throw the outer layers of a star off into space The quantity of energy released by a supernova can be equivalent to the energy output of the Sun over its entire lifetime They briefly become what appears to observers as a bright new star hence the name Supernova A was first observed within hours of exploding and offered astronomers their first opportunity to test theories of supernova formation against observational evidence It occurred in the Large Magellanic Cloud a dwarf galaxy outside the Milky Way and was caused by the explosion of a blue supergiant star some times the mass of the Sun