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Hubble space telescope images of SN 1987A: Evolution of the Ejecta and the Equatorial Ring from 2009 to 2022

Rosu, Sophie, Larsson, Josefin, Fransson, Claes, Challis, Peter, Kangas, Tuomas, Kirshner, Robert P., Lawrence, Stephen S., Lundqvist, Peter, Matsuura, Mikako ORCID:, Sollerman, Jesper, Sonneborn, George and Tenhu, Linda 2024. Hubble space telescope images of SN 1987A: Evolution of the Ejecta and the Equatorial Ring from 2009 to 2022. The Astrophysical Journal 966 (2) , 238. 10.3847/1538-4357/ad36cc

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Supernova (SN) 1987A offers a unique opportunity to study how a spatially resolved SN evolves into a young SN remnant. We present and analyze Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imaging observations of SN 1987A obtained in 2022 and compare them with HST observations from 2009 to 2021. These observations allow us to follow the evolution of the equatorial ring (ER), the rapidly expanding ejecta, and emission from the center over a wide range in wavelength from 2000 to 11,000 Å. The ER has continued to fade since it reached its maximum ∼8200 days after the explosion. In contrast, the ejecta brightened until day ∼11,000 before their emission levelled off; the west side brightened more than the east side, which we attribute to the stronger X-ray emission by the ER on that side. The asymmetric ejecta expand homologously in all filters, which are dominated by various emission lines from hydrogen, calcium, and iron. From this overall similarity, we infer the ejecta are chemically well mixed on large scales. The exception is the diffuse morphology observed in the UV filters dominated by emission from the Mg ii resonance lines that get scattered before escaping. The 2022 observations do not show any sign of the compact object that was inferred from highly ionized emission near the remnant’s center observed with JWST. We determine an upper limit on the flux from a compact central source in the [O iii] HST image. The nondetection of this line indicates that the S and Ar lines observed with JWST originate from the O free inner Si–S–Ar-rich zone and/or that the observed [O iii] flux is strongly affected by dust scattering.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Physics and Astronomy
Additional Information: License information from Publisher: LICENSE 1: URL:, Type: cc-by
Publisher: American Astronomical Society
ISSN: 0004-637X
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 13 May 2024
Date of Acceptance: 20 March 2024
Last Modified: 13 May 2024 08:30

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