A Stubbornly Large Mass of Cold Dust in the Ejecta of Supernova 1987A

M. Matsuura*, E. Dwek, M. J. Barlow, B. Babler, M. Baes, M. Meixner, Jose Cernicharo, Geoff C. Clayton, L. Dunne, C. Fransson, Jacopo Fritz, Walter Gear, H. L. Gomez, M. A. T. Groenewegen, R. Indebetouw, R. J. Ivison, A. Jerkstrand, V. Lebouteiller, T. L. Lim, P. LundqvistC. P. Pearson, J. Roman-Duval, P. Royer, Lister Staveley-Smith, B. M. Swinyard, P. A. M. van Hoof, J. Th. van Loon, Joris Verstappen, Roger Wesson, Giovanna Zanardo, Joris A. D. L. Blommaert, Leen Decin, W. T. Reach, George Sonneborn, Griet C. Van de Steene, Jeremy A. Yates

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

134 Citations (Scopus)


We present new Herschel photometric and spectroscopic observations of Supernova 1987A, carried out in 2012. Our dedicated photometric measurements provide new 70 mu m data and improved imaging quality at 100 and 160 mu m compared to previous observations in 2010. Our Herschel spectra show only weak CO line emission, and provide an upper limit for the 63 mu m [O-I] line flux, eliminating the possibility that line contaminations distort the previously estimated dustmass. The far-infrared spectral energy distribution (SED) is well fitted by thermal emission from cold dust. The newly measured 70 mu m flux constrains the dust temperature, limiting it to nearly a single temperature. The far-infrared emission can be fitted by 0.5 +/- 0.1M(circle dot) 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 0.3M(circle dot) of amorphous carbon and 0.5M(circle dot) of silicates, totalling 0.8M(circle dot) 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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number50
Number of pages8
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 09 Feb 2015


  • dust, extinction
  • infrared: ISM
  • infrared: stars
  • ISM: supernova remnants
  • submillimeter: ISM
  • submillimeter: stars
  • supernovae: individual (Supernova 1987A)
  • SN 1987A


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