What are Supernovas?

What is a Supernova?

In the history of mankind, a supernova has been the most massive explosion that the planet has ever seen. Each blast represents the extremely bright and super-powerful explosion of a star, and each one is distinct from the others.

What Is The Cause Of A Supernova Explosion?

A Type I supernova is a type of supernova that is caused by the “last hurrah” of a dying massive star, and it is the most common type of supernova. When a star with a mass at least five times that of our sun explodes with a resounding thud, the phenomenon is known as a supernova.


Massive stars, have cores or centers that burn enormous amounts of nuclear fuel. As a result of the tremendous amount of energy generated, the center becomes extremely hot. Along with creating pressure, the nuclear burning of a star also has the additional benefit of preventing the star from collapsing due to the pressure created. Here the star is in a state of equilibrium between two opposing forces.  The gravitational pull which attempts to compress the star into the smallest, most compact ball that it is capable of producing. And, the nuclear fuel burning in the star’s core which generates a great force of outward pressure, that causes the star to expand.

Supernova process

Result Of The Explosion

As a result of this outward push, gravity is squeezed inward, and the push itself is resisted by the gravity. When a massive star runs out of fuel, it starts to cool down and eventually dies. As a result, the pressure gradually begins to decrease. Gravity has finally gained the upper hand, and the star collapses. If you think about it, the possibility of something with a mass one million times that of the Earth collapsing in just 15 seconds is terrifying! This occurs because of the extreme rapidity with which the collapse takes place, resulting in enormous shock waves that cause the outermost part of the star to explode!

Concluding the Explosion Caused By Supernovas

An extremely dense core is typically left behind, along with an expanding cloud of hot gas known as a nebula, which is formed as the core cools and becomes more dense over time. During the supernova of a star that is more than ten times the size of our sun, black holes may form, which are the densest objects in the universe and are the most dangerous.

Supernova/ Nebula

Type II - Supernova

A second type of supernova, can occur in systems in which two stars orbit one another and at least one of those stars is the size of the Earth. This is a phenomenon that occurs when two stars orbit one another and at least one of those stars is a white dwarf. A white dwarf is essentially what is left over after a star the size of our sun has used up all of its available fuel supply. The possibility of a white dwarf exploding exists if it collides with another star or draws excessive amounts of matter from a nearby star. 

How Bright Are Supernovas?

This type of spectacular event has the potential to be so bright that it can outshine the entire galaxy in which it occurs for a period of several days or even months. They can be seen from every vantage point on the face of the planet.

How Often Do Supernovas Occur?

Based on their observations, astronomers believe that about two or three supernovae occur in galaxies like our own Milky Way every century, a figure that is conservative. The fact that there are so many galaxies in the universe means that astronomers are only able to observe a few hundred supernovas per year outside of our own galaxy because there are so many of them. The vast majority of supernova in our galaxy are obscured by space dust, making it difficult to observe them in their entirety.

Brightness of Supernova

What Techniques Do Scientists Employ When Studying Supernova?

NASA scientists search for and study supernovae with a variety of different types of telescopes, which they acquire through their research. For example, the NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) mission, which investigates the universe using X-ray vision and other advanced technologies, is one such mission. Using NuSTAR data, scientists are able to better understand what happens in the months and years leading up to, during, and after these spectacular explosions. Supernovae and young nebulae are among the targets of NuSTAR’s observations.

Supernova - Conclusion

Conclusion - Supernova

A plethora of information about the universe has been gathered by scientists thanks to supernovae. For measuring distances between objects in outer space, they use the second type of supernova (the one involving white dwarf stars) as a ruler. They have also discovered that stars serve as the manufacturing plants for the universe. Stars are responsible for the production of the chemical elements that are necessary for the formation of everything in our universe. Even simple elements such as hydrogen can be converted into heavier elements at the cores of stars, which is how they got their start. Heavy elements such as carbon and nitrogen, for example, are essential for the survival of all living things. Gold, silver, and uranium are all heavy elements that can only be produced by supermassive black holes. A supernova explosion occurs when a star explodes, causing the elements that have been stored up as well as those that have been created to be dispersed throughout space.

Source: NASA Space Place
Images: Pinterest

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