The uncertainty of science: More than three decades after the 1987 supernova in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the only naked eye supernova in the 400 years, astronomers think they might finally have detected evidence of the neutron star left over from that blast and buried within the explosion’s wake.
“Astronomers have wondered if not enough time has passed for a pulsar to form, or even if SN 1987A created a black hole,” said co-author 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 Chandra and NuSTAR data also support a 2020 result from ALMA that provided possible evidence for the structure of a pulsar wind nebula in the millimeter wavelength band. While this “blob” has other potential explanations, its identification as a pulsar wind nebula could be substantiated with the new X-ray data. This is more evidence supporting the idea that there is a neutron star left behind.
If this is indeed a pulsar at the center of SN 1987A, it would be the youngest one ever found.
The data is still somewhat tentative and unconfirmed, but intriguing nonetheless. The pulsar itself, if it really is a pulsar, remains buried in the explosion’s expanding cloud, and has as yet not been seen directly.
From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.
He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.
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