What is a Supernova and Why Has One Just Blown the Minds of Physicists?

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This explosion causes a fast moving shock-wave into surrounding interstellar medium and sweeps up a shell of dust and gas forming a supernova remnant. These shock-waves have also been found to trigger formations of new stars.

exploding supernova

Interstellar medium, in fact, refers not only to a man trapped in space unable to reach his daughter, but also the matter that exists in space between the star systems and galaxies. This matter includes gas in ionic, atomic, and molecular form, as well as dust and cosmic rays. In space, it fills and blends smoothly into the surrounding area.

Supernovae are triggered by one of two things; either by a sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of the star’s core. This puts them in two categories; Type I and Type II supernovae.

The First Recorded Supernova

The earliest recorded supernova was discovered by Chinese astronomers in 185 AD. This supernova was named SN 185. The latest observed supernovae with the naked eye in the Milky Way were SN 1572 and SN 1604. The numbers representing the year they were observed.

Before the telescope was developed, a total of five supernovae were seen in the last millennium. A star’s death may last only a few months and since, on average, only about three supernovae occur every century visibly in the Milky Way, the average person will only experience something as rare as this once in his lifetime. However, with the development of telescopes, studies in the field of supernovae have been vastly opened to other galaxies as well.

Of all the supernovae that have been sighted over the centuries, one supernova in particular has recently blown the minds of physicists. Its name is ASASSN-15lh.

ASASSN – 15lh

Now, this is the supernova that is causing quite a stir in recent news. The brightest supernova observed to date was spotted in June 2015. When certain stars reach the end of their fuel supply, or gain a sudden influx of new material, they explode into a supernova.

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