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Supernovas, the death of a star. What is a Supernova?. A supernova is the explosion of a star, caused by exceeding the Chandrasekhar limit (1.38 solar masses), by running out of fuel at their core. *Solar mass refers to how much bigger a mass is than our sun. *Supernova in UV.

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What is a Supernova?

A supernova is the explosion of a star, caused by exceeding the Chandrasekhar limit (1.38 solar masses), by running out of fuel at their core.

*Solar mass refers to how much bigger a mass is than our sun

*Supernova in UV

Types of Supernovas

There are five types of supernovas.

They are; Type Ia, Type Ib, Type Ic, Type IIP, and Type IIL. They have been categorised by their light signatures, elemental composition, but mainly how they go supernova.

Supernova shown in many spectra.

Type I Supernovas

There are three Type I supernovas;

Type Ia- These supernovas involve white dwarf stars that exceed the Chandraskar limit, this can occur by sheer growth, the merging of two oxygen rich white dwarfs, or an oxygen rich white dwarf taking mass from another source. (i.e. red giant).

Type Ib and Ic- These supernovas from this star is very different from Type Ia, this star explodes when massive stars run out of fuel and collapse into themselves.

Type Ib

Type II Supernovas

There are two types of Type II supernovas, Type IIP and Type IIL both of which have the same process and differ only in there prospective light curves. This process starts with the cores source running out (helium) and the collapse of the star begins increasing heat and pressure. Yet the star sensing its end reacts in an animalistic fashion, by trying to survive it stars burning any other elements as a core, creating hotter temperatures and larger pressures to relieve the core. Unfortunately this process keeps creating layers and layers of elements burning eventually exceeding the Chandrasekhar limit resulting in the complete implosion of the star. This implosion blasts away the outer layers while compacting the core creating a neutron star. Yet any star bigger than fifty solar masses will collapse into a black hole.

Finding Supernovas

I has been found that a surge of UV light would be present weeks before one could witness the actual explosion, yet the Earth’s atmosphere absorbs UV light, so astronomers had to ask themselves; how do we overcome this? With GALEX and orbiting space telescope, that completes a full orbit in approximately an hour and a half. Its this space telescope that is being used to spot supernovas in their early stages.

The Explosion

The explosion itself is unlike anything one can truly fathom, it expels projectiles at speeds roughly around 70,000 km/second or 22,000,000 km/hour. Expelling all of the elements contained within the star (mostly heavy metals), high energy light, neutrinos (a form of anti-matter), and a gargantuan amount of gamma rays ( Hypernovas-supernova facing us 1000x the explosion) . See page __ of the text book on gamma ray knife.

Products Of Supernovas


The extreme amount of force exerted outwards in an explosion can in precise circumstances. Such as a cloud of dust and rock at a distance far enough away to avoid being hurled into oblivion yet close enough to feel residual impact could be compressed to form another star.

Products Of Supernovas

Neutron Star

Known to some as a “Super Star” a neutron star has a diameter of a small city yet a greater mass than our own sun, formed from the compressed core left behind after a supernova. Being the densest objects in the universe with only “one step” from being a black hole it is said “ Just a teaspoon would weigh a billion tons on Earth”. These stars that blink like light house produce as much light as 100,000 trillion suns, and as much energy in a single flare as the sun produces in twenty years.

“An artist's rendering shows a neutron star—located 50,000 light-years from Earth—that flared up so brightly in December 2004 that it temporarily blinded all the x-ray satellites in space and lit up the Earth's upper atmosphere. The flare-up occurred when the star's massive, twisting magnetic field ripped open its crust, releasing an explosion of gamma rays.”

Products Of Supernovas

Black Holes

Black Holes are a common figure and are known by many a people, yet this destructive phenomenon can be created as stated before in a supernova above fifty solar masses. Black holes are “concentrated areas of mass”, that with an immense amount of gravity draw everything into there center even the fabric of the Universe actually “warping the shape of space; and of time.”

Products Of Supernovas

Grim Reapers

Much bigger than any black hole created by a supernova, in rare circumstances this recently discovered phenomenon can come to pass, a Grim Reaper is a super-massive stellar black hole reaching the weights of millions of solar masses. Usually formed when a star 10 X’s our sun (or larger) goes through a core collapse supernova.

The Big Bang?

All this talk on explosions and things being created from them can make you think? Could a supernova have possible caused the Big Bang? Well needless to say this has been considered yet theorists have one problem, supernovas only produce heavy elements like iron, gold, and silver. Whereas the Big Bang left behind helium and hydrogen excluding any possible supernova explosions. Discoveries are always being made, in 1997, 12 billion light years away (edge of the known universe) an explosion lasting 40 seconds long was witnessed, estimated to be 1000x more powerful than a hypernova.

Threat To Earth?

Are supernovas a threat to Earth? Should we just go cower in a hole now? Well its hard to say, although with all of these significant discoveries many astronomers and scientists still believe that our Sun could go supernova at anytime. Couple this with the theory that 60% of Earth’s oceanic life was killed at the end of the Ordovician period by a supernova explosion. More to the point, with a galaxy as vast as our own; any star within 3300 light years would cause drastic changes to our planet. With only so many astronomers to monitor our surroundings it is very unlikely we will have any notice before a supernova occurs in a “dangerous” range.


1001 Facts About Space- DK Publishing Inc. 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY Page 67

World Book Encyclopaedia “Letter G”- World Book Inc. 233 North Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL. Page 23

National Geographic Space Edition- National Geographic Washington DC. 1145th Street NW. Page 96