FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, August 05, 2005

Supernova: Before and After

Our weekly Friday diversion takes us to the edge of the Whirlpool Galaxy for a midsummer fireworks display... cosmic-style.

The Hubble Space Telescope provided a rare glimpse of an exploding star (supernova) both before (1/21/05) and after (7/11/05) the event. The star was a red supergiant with a mass 7 to 10 times greater than our Sun.

This before-and-after view of a supernova has helped broaden astronomers' understanding about the phenomenon. One thing that is known about supernovae, however, is that a minimal star mass is necessary for them to happen. Our Sun is way too small to go supernova; instead, its eventual destiny (many millions of years from now) is to contract to a cool white dwarf.

Sources: Space.com