See that pink ring glowing in the middle of space? That's the shockwave of Supernova 1987A hitting a gas ring that was ejected from the dying star 20,000 years before the fiery explosion. It's one light year across.

The Hubble keeps leaving me speechless. University of Colorado at Boulder Research Associate Kevin France, of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Astronomy, comments on the image:

We are seeing the effect a supernova can have in the surrounding galaxy, including how the energy deposited by these stellar explosions changes the dynamics and chemistry of the environment. We can use these new data to understand how supernova processes regulate the evolution of galaxies.

This is also the effect that you always see about to destroy the Enterprise before Picard shouts: Warp 9, engage!


Supernova 1987A is located in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy located near the Milky Way. Hubble Site]