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Supernova and effects

  • Category
    Science & Technology
  • Published
    10th Mar, 2023


A team of researchers has unveiled new light on the explosion of a star in a supernova more than 450 years ago using equipment by the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration

  • The blast was visible to people on our planet way back in 1572.

Details of the study:

  • The shock wave from the blast is still propagating through the cosmos from the initial explosion, meaning it can be observed from Earth even now. 
  • The team used NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) to study polarised X-rays from the supernova remnant.
  • Agencies involved: IXPE is collaboration between NASA and the Italian Space Agency with partners and science collaborators in 12 countries.
  • Key findings: 
    • The blast from the supernova named Tycho released as much energy as the Sun would emit over ten billion years.
    • The explosion blasted particles out into space near the speed of light.
    • Researchers used IXPE to reveal the geometry of the magnetic fields close to Tycho’s shock wave. 
    • Understanding the magnetic field geometry allows scientists to investigate further how particles are accelerated there.
    • The overall direction of the magnetic fields in supernova remnants appears to be radial, stretched out along a path extending outward. 

Tycho Supernova (Death of a Star):

  • In 1572, Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe was among those who noticed a new bright object in the constellation Cassiopeia. 
  • Tycho showed this “new star” was far beyond the Moon, and that it was possible for the universe beyond the Sun and planets to change.
  • Rather it signaled the death of a star in a supernova, an explosion so bright that it can outshine the light from an entire galaxy. 
  • This particular supernova was a Type Ia, which occurs when a white dwarf star pulls material from, or merges with, a nearby companion star until a violent explosion is triggered. The white dwarf star is obliterated, sending its debris hurtling into space.

What does a Supernova means?

  • A supernova is the explosion of a star. It is the largest explosion that takes place in space.

Where Do Supernovas takes 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 center, 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, 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.


  • 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.


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