What happens during a supernova

The universe is full of infinite possibilities and exciting realities, and there is so much we are yet to discover about it. With every passing year, science is teaching us more and more about the secrets of the universe; it’s proving pretty mind-blowing. Our Solar System is one of the most complex, mysterious, and fascinating things in the world, and it has helped us to learn all about supernovas.

Supernovas occur across the universe, and scientists have spent years learning about these incredible phenomena, what they are, and how they work. In layman’s terms, a supernova is a name given to an exploding star, and it’s crucial for teaching us about stars, their lifespans, and the way they work. Let’s find out a little more about what happens during the process of a supernova.

Exploding star

When a star comes to the end of its lifespan, it will explode in a blaze of energy and matter. Now, this is something that tends to happen across lots of different galaxies, including our own, but supernovas are difficult to observe, as dust particles can block our view. The last time a supernova was actually observed in our Milky Way galaxy was all the way back in the 17th century! Of course, scientists are still able to study supernovas and find out more about them, and we’ll touch on this later. 

What can cause a supernova?

Supernovas can be caused in two distinct ways. One of them, which we’ve already touched upon, is when a star reaches the end of its lifetime and runs out of nuclear fuel. When this occurs, some of the mass of the star flows into its core until it becomes too heavy to contain, and the star collapses. The other thing that can cause a supernova is two stars coming into contact with one another. In this scenario, binary stars – two stars sharing the same orbital path – encounter each other. A white dwarf star will steal the matter from the other star, accumulating too much matter, and causing it to explode.

Photo: Getty Images


NASA is always seeking ways to learn more about the galaxy and our Solar System, and they have been studying and observing supernovas for some time now. Telescopes are used in a bid to try to observe some explosions, while some scientists also record gamma rays caused by the supernova explosion. In 2012 NASA launched the NuSTAR mission, sending an orbiting telescope into space in a bid to find out more about supernovas.

Photo: Getty Images

It’s pretty clear that supernovas are one of the most interesting and amazing things in the Solar System. Learning more about space and the stars can help us on a voyage of discovery, as well as allowing us to find out more about our own planet (and galaxy) in the process. As such, studying phenomena like supernovas is so important, and science is constantly seeking new and better ways to do this. Space is full of so many secrets and mysteries; who knows what other wonders wait on the dark, distant horizon.

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