[Read the Article]
The death of a massive star produces a violent explosion – or supernova – that expels matter at hypersonic speeds. With the Hubble Space Telescope now refurbished, France et al. compiled time-series images of the brightest supernova in modern history and an unprecedented glimpse of “astrophysical shocks.” When the shocks from supernova 1987A interact with the dense circumstellar ring, optical hotspots are formed. The first hotspot was recorded in 1995, but today, the ring is entirely encircled by about 30 hotspots. The movie displays the rapidly fading and expanding light from the scattering supernova debris, as well as the appearance of numerous hotspots.