Three rings of glowing gas encircle the site of supernova 1987A, a star that burst in Earth's skies in Feb. 1987 and is the closest such event to Earth in four centuries. The rings probably occupy different planes, with the small bright ring in the middle containing the site of the initial explosion. This shape has surprised and intrigued astronomers. The cataclysm is underway 169,000 light years away, in the dwarf galaxy known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, visible only from the Southern Hemisphere.
Credit: Christopher Burrows, ESA/STScI and NASA.