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In 1987, the brightest supernova in 400 yrs appeared in one of the closest galaxies to us. The initial blast wave propagated out at 10% of the speed of light. Even today, it is still propagating at thousands of kilometres per second through the medium surrounding the progenitor star. At radio and sub-millimetre wavelengths it just continues to get brighter as the shock front interacts with surrounding gas, and as the cool ejecta begins to form molecules and large amounts of dust. We are lucky enough to have Principle Investigator programs on low and high-frequency radio telescopes in Australia (Compact Array and MWA) and Chile (ALMA). In this project, there is unprecedented opportunity to study acceleration mechanism for cosmic rays in shock fronts, the formation of molecules, and to trace out the pre-supernova structure around the progenitor star. This project can also involve measurement of expansion velocities and the search for a pulsar, which has yet to be detected.

An artist’s impression of the remnant of Supernova 1987A

An artist’s impression of the remnant of Supernova 1987A