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Scientist Studies Exploding Star's Insides, Explains Birth of Supernova

Some 168,000 years ago, in a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud, a massive star collapsed and then spectacularly exploded, releasing 100 times the amount of energy than the sun will release over its lifetime in just one second. The faraway light took so long to reach us that astronomers first saw the explosion in 1987, and, not-so-creatively, named it Supernova 1987A. In the 23 years since, Robert Kirshner, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, has acted as a sort of steward over this supernova, tracking and studying its insides as they emerged from the blast and traveled through space. But in 2004, science grounded to a halt when the spectrometer on the Hubble Space Telescope failed, leaving a five-year gap in the research. Kirshner, co-author of a Science article on the first images of 1987A since Hubble was repaired spoke recently with the NewsHour.
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