Date: June 13, 1988
It took 160 thousand years for light from an exploding star in the Large Magellanic Cloud to reach Earth, but only one year for astronomers and physicists to emit their own burst of energy in the form of journal articles on this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Since February 23, 1987, when the first light from the explosion was seen, the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) has recorded some 180 articles carrying the term “supernova 1987A” (or variants) in the 4,400 science journals it surveys for its on-line citation database SciSearch.
The accompanying graph charts three data sets the change in luminosity of SN 1987A over time; the number of observational reports about supernova phenomena registered and announced by the International Astronomical Union in Cambridge, Mass.; and the number of articles on the supernova published in...