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First 3D supernova image obtained

5 August 2010 7:29

Astronomers have obtained the first 3D view of a supernova, a luminous stellar explosion with a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy.

Using the Very Large Telescope in Chile, the team studied the supernova 1987A which is 168,000 light-years away from the Earth.

The results indicate that the original blast was very powerful and concentrated in one particular direction, BBC reported.

Seen in 1987, the 1987A was the first supernova visible with the naked eye to have been spotted for some 383 years.

The 3D image shows that the explosion was stronger and faster in some directions, creating an irregular shape with some parts stretching further out into space.

The first material ejected from the blast moved at 100 million km per hour, about 100,000 times faster than a passenger jet, and reached an existing ring of gas 10 years later.

The image also show that another wave of material is travelling ten times more slowly and being heated by the explosion’s radioactive elements.

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