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You might have sometimes noticed a bright star suddenly bursting into view in the corner of the sky. This star was not there a few hours ago and now it is burning like beacon. This bright star is not a star actually. The light that you see is the explosion of the star which has reached the end of its life and this is called a Supernova. A Supernova is a kind of stellar explosion that outshines the entire galaxy briefly and radiates as much energy as is radiated by the Sun or any other star over its life span. It has been reported by NASA that Supernovae are the largest explosions taking place in space.

Where does a Supernova take place?
Supernovas are generally found in other galaxies. It is quite difficult to see Supernovas in the Milky Way galaxy. This is due to the fact that dust stands as an obstacle for our view. Johannes Kepler was the person who discovered a Supernova is the Milky Way in 1604. The Chandra telescope from NASA discovered remains of a recent Supernova. This Supernova exploded in Milky Way more than hundred years from now. Scientists study Supernova because these Supernovas can tell the scientists a lot regarding the universe.

Where Do Supernovas Take Place?
Supernovas are often seen in other galaxies. But supernovas are difficult to see in our own Milky Way galaxy because dust blocks our view. In 1604, Johannes Kepler discovered the last observed supernova in the Milky Way. NASA’s Chandra telescope discovered the remains of a more recent Supernova. It exploded in the Milky Way more than a hundred years ago.

What Causes a Supernova?
A Supernova happens where there is a change in the core, or centre, of a star. A change can occur in two different ways, with both resulting in a Supernova.

The first type of Supernova happens in binary star systems. Binary stars are two stars that orbit the same point. One of the stars, a carbon-oxygen White Dwarf (a star near the end of its life that has used most or all of its nuclear fuel and collapsed into a size similar to Earth), steals matter from its companion star. Eventually, the White Dwarf accumulates too much matter. Having too much matter causes the star to explode, resulting in a Supernova.

The second type of Supernova occurs at the end of a single star’s lifetime. As the star runs out of nuclear fuel, some of its mass flows into its core. Eventually, the core is so heavy that it cannot withstand its own gravitational force. The core collapses, which results in the giant explosion of a supernova. The sun is a single star, but it does not have enough mass to become a supernova.

Why Do Scientists Study Supernovas?
A Supernova burns for only a short period of time, but it can tell scientists a lot about the universe.

One kind of Supernova has shown scientists that we live in an expanding universe, one that is growing at an ever increasing rate.

Scientists also have determined that Supernovas play a key role in distributing elements throughout the universe. When the star explodes, it shoots elements and debris into space. Many of the elements we find here on Earth are made in the core of stars. These elements travel on to form new stars, planets and everything else in the universe.

How Do NASA Scientists Look for Supernovas?
NASA scientists use different types of telescopes to look for and study supernovas. Some telescopes are used to observe the visible light from the explosion. Others record data from the X-rays (a type of electromagnetic radiation with a very short wavelength and very high-energy. X-rays have shorter wavelengths than ultraviolet light but longer wavelengths than gamma rays)and gamma rays (the highest-energy, shortest-wavelength electromagnetic radiations)that are also produced. Both NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and Chandra X-ray Observatory have captured images of supernovas.

In June 2012, NASA launched the first orbiting telescope that focuses light in the high-energy region of the electromagnetic spectrum. The NuSTAR mission has a number of jobs to do. It will look for collapsed stars and black holes. It also will search for the remains of supernovas. Scientists hope to learn more about how stars explode and the elements that are created by Supernovas!

(Information Credits: Excerpts taken from Nasa Knows!)

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