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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Photo of Rings by Hubble Telescope Shows a Record of Star's Explosion

May 15, 1997|From Times staff and wire reports

The double rings in the photo above, each more than one light-year wide, represent sulfur in the ring of glowing gas around supernova 1987a. The image is one of a sequence taken by the newly updated Hubble Space Telescope Imaging Spectrograph to determine the concentration of various elements in the rings, which are composed of gases heated to as much as 25,000 degrees Centigrade. The ring formed 30,000 years before the star exploded and therefore is a fossil record of the last stages of the star's existence. Supernova 1987a is 167,000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud.

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