A stubbornly large mass of cold dust in the ejecta of supernova 1987A


M. Matsuura, University College London
E. Dwek, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
M. J. Barlow, University College London
B. Babler, University of Wisconsin-Madison
M. Baes, Universiteit Gent
M. Meixner, Space Telescope Science Institute
José Cernicharo, Centro de Astrobiología (CSIC-INTA)
Geoff C. Clayton, Louisiana State University
L. Dunne, University of Canterbury
C. Fransson, Stockholms universitet
Jacopo Fritz, Universiteit Gent
Walter Gear, Cardiff University
H. L. Gomez, Cardiff University
M. A.T. Groenewegen, Royal Observatory of Belgium
R. Indebetouw, University of Virginia
R. J. Ivison, University of Edinburgh, Institute for Astronomy
A. Jerkstrand, Queen's University Belfast
V. Lebouteiller, Astrophysique, Instrumentation et Modélisation de Paris-Saclay
T. L. Lim, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
P. Lundqvist, Stockholms universitet
C. P. Pearson, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
J. Roman-Duval, Space Telescope Science Institute
P. Royer, Departement Natuurkunde en Sterrenkunde
Lister Staveley-Smith, The University of Western Australia
B. M. Swinyard, University College London
P. A.M. Van Hoof, Royal Observatory of Belgium
J. Th Van Loon, Keele University
Joris Verstappen, Universiteit Gent
Roger Wesson, European Southern Observatory Santiago
Giovanna Zanardo, The University of Western Australia
Joris A.D.L. Blommaert, Departement Natuurkunde en Sterrenkunde
Leen Decin, Departement Natuurkunde en Sterrenkunde
W. T. Reach, Universities Space Research Association

Document Type


Publication Date



We present new Herschel photometric and spectroscopic observations of Supernova 1987A, carried out in 2012. Our dedicated photometric measurements provide new 70 μm data and improved imaging quality at 100 and 160 μm compared to previous observations in 2010. Our Herschel spectra show only weak CO line emission, and provide an upper limit for the 63 μm [O I] line flux, eliminating the possibility that line contaminations distort the previously estimated dust mass. The far-infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) is well fitted by thermal emission from cold dust. The newly measured 70 μm flux constrains the dust temperature, limiting it to nearly a single temperature. The far-infrared emission can be fitted by 0.5 ± 0.1 M of amorphous carbon, about a factor of two larger than the current nucleosynthetic mass prediction for carbon. The observation of SiO molecules at early and late phases suggests that silicates may also have formed and we could fit the SED with a combination of 0.3 M of amorphous carbon and 0.5 M of silicates, totalling 0.8 M of dust. Our analysis thus supports the presence of a large dust reservoir in the ejecta of SN 1987A. The inferred dust mass suggests that supernovae can be an important source of dust in the interstellar medium, from local to high-redshift galaxies.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

Astrophysical Journal

This document is currently not available here.