AAS Meeting #193 - Austin, Texas, January 1999
Session 47. Supernovae
Display, Thursday, January 7, 1999, 9:20am-6:30pm, Exhibit Hall 1

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[47.01] Some Recent HST Observations of SN~1987A and SNR~1987A

C.S.J. Pun (NASA/GSFC), S. Poirier (U. Toronto), G. Sonneborn, S.P. Maran, T. R. Gull (NASA/GSFC), R. McCray, E. Michael (U. Colorado), P. Lundqvist (Stockholm Obs.)

We present some recent HST/STIS observations of the Supernova 1987A system. Apart from providing information on the structure of the circumstellar rings and the expanding debris, these data also suggest that the long-awaited collision of the SN debris and the inner circumstellar ring has begun. Two interacting phenomena are observed. The interaction between the exploding debris with the H~II region located inside of the inner ring results in the observed spatially extended high velocity (v~~~15,000 km s-1) radiation in Ly\alpha and H\alpha. On the other hand, the interaction between the supernova debris with an inward protrusion of the inner ring results in the brightening of the ``hot spot,'' a highly localized and lower velocity shock (v \la 350 km s-1) which is rapidly increasing in brightness (factor of 2 in ~~6 months). The SNR~1987A should increase in brightness many fold across the spectrum in the coming years.

We also present the first ever NIR imaging of the SN~1987A debris and the circumstellar ring system. HST/NICMOS images in the He~I 1.08\mum and and Pa\alpha are obtained. By comparing the He~I 1.08\mum image with the He~I \lambda5876 spectral image obtained by STIS, we are able to measure the temperature of the inner circumstellar ring and the ``hot spot.'' Moreover, the Pa\alpha image reveals the detailed structure of the supernova debris.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: pun@congee.gsfc.nasa.gov

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