Supernovas are one of the most spectacular and destructive phenomenons from the Universe. If the star that explodes is big enough, the supernova resulting could be even brighter and bigger than an entire galaxy. But who would have thought that such a tremendous and powerful explosion like a supernova could possibly create another mysterious and beautiful object like a neutron star? It all seems to take place in some sort of cosmic wisdom, where creation can be found even within destructive events.
Neutron stars are the remnants of supernovas, and perhaps their main quality is that they are extremely dense. Therefore, they have huge gravitational pull. Sometimes these stars are difficult to be found because of their small sizes and the cloud of debris left over by the supernova’s explosion.
Huge achievement came after 30 years of research
Scientists have been trying for three decades to spot the neutron star left over by the supernova 1987A, and they failed. But recently, a team of scientists led by Dr. Phil Cigan from Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, realized what seemed to be impossible: they found the pesky neutron star. Cigan said it loud, proud and clear:
For the very first time we can tell that there is a neutron star inside this cloud within the supernova remnant.
Supernova 1987A is located 168,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which actually means it’s probably not there in the present. Its light reached Earth in 1987, and now you can guess where the name comes from.
What took them so long to find it?
The most plausible reason for the scientists not being able for 30 years to see the neutron star is that the celestial object was blocked by the gas and dust left over by the supernova’s explosion. Another explanation would be that a pulsar was born instead of the neutron star, and that the magnetic field was too small that it could avoid detection.
Whatever the reason would be, we have to be conscious that, in general, searching for a specific object in the infinite vastness of the Cosmos is like searching for a needle in sextillions of haystacks.