Astronomers Believe They’ve Located the Remnant of Neutron Star Left Behind Supernova 1987A
Supernova 1987A (SN 1987A) was first observed on February 23, 1987 in a nearby dwarf galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, some 164,000 light-years away. For decades, astronomers have searched for a neutron star that should have been left behind by the explosion.
In the 34 years since, astronomers have been searching, unsuccessfully, for the missing neutron star. Various theories arose. Perhaps it hadn’t had time to form yet. Or perhaps the blue supergiant’s mass was larger than expected, and the supernova created a black hole instead of a neutron star.
“Astronomers have wondered if not enough time has passed for a pulsar to form, or even if SN 1987A created a black hole,” said Dr. Marco Miceli, also from the University of Palermo.
“This has been an ongoing mystery for a few decades and we are very excited to bring new information to the table with this result.”
The discovery is exciting. “Being able to watch a pulsar essentially since its birth would be unprecedented,” said Salvatore Orlando, one of the researchers involved in the detection. “It might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study the development of a baby pulsar.”
The new data also support a recent result from the ground-based Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) that provided possible evidence for the structure of a pulsar wind nebula in the millimeter wavelength band.