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No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994

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"AN UNPRECEDENTED AND BIZARRE OBJECT"

So said C. Burrows, codiscoverer of this new cosmic conundrum. The instigator of all the astronomical head scratching is our old friend Supernova 1987A, the subject of several past SF items. This time, the anomalies are associated with three bright rings now gracing 1987A's environs. The thin, dense, elliptical inner ring, the first to be noted, has always been a puzzle. Its diameter suggests that it was probably created about 30,000 years before 1987A blew up. But what is it? Its existence is hard to explain, as N. Panagia has confirmed:

"The presence of a dense, thin, ring surrounding a massive star at the end of its evolution is not easy to account for."

In other words, this ring is foreign to mainstream astronomical theory.

Now, with the help of the Hubble Space Telescope, two additional faint rings near 1987A have been detected. One seems to be the mirror image of the other. The bizarre part is that they are not centered on 1987A at all, like the ring mentioned above. One of the new rings seems to be in front of 1987A, the other in back -- but this is a subjective call. Speculation is rampant, and all three rings are enigmatic. Is 1987A blowing out rings of matter front and back?

(Panagia, Nino; "Origins Revealed in Demise," Nature, 369:354, 1994. Cowen, R.; "Mysterious Rings Surround Supernova," Science News, 145:340, 1994.)

From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987