Supernovae are events at the end of a stars life. They are a very violent explosion that is so bright that for a few months the supernova actually outshines the light from the rest of its host galaxy. A supernova occurs in a large galaxy about 5 times per century.There are two two types:
These are the Supernovae in this archive. These pictures were taken by volunteer astronomers at the Insperity Observatory in Humble ISD.Photo taken by Aaron Clevenson on June 10, 2011. This picture includes a supernova. Compare it with the second picture on M51.This picture was taken in black and white only and was taken at a time when we were just beginning to learn how to take pictures at the observatory with our CCD camera and telescopes.M51: The Whirlpool GalaxyPhoto taken by Aaron Clevenson on April 24, 2012. Note the extra star that is missing in this second photo.This picture was taken in full color, almost a year later, and after the supernova had faded back into obscurity.
- Type 1: This is a star that has already stopped doing fusion. It is a white dwarf star, an ember slowly cooling until we can no longer see it. But it has a companion star. As this companion approaches the end of its life, it puffs up into a giant or supergiant. If it exceeds a certain size, and is close enough to the white dwarf star it will give some of its material (hydrogen and helium) to the white dwarf. If the white dwarf exceeds 1.44 times the mass of our sun it will explode as a Type 1 Superenova. This is also called a Carbon Detonation Supernova and is so violent that it will usually blow the star completely apart and there will not be a black hole or neutron star when it is done.
- Type 2: This is a very large star; at least 8 times the mass of the sun. When it has begun making iron in its core it will run low on fuel and as fusion slows the star will collapse. When this happens the outer layers of the star's atmosphere will rebound off the collapsing core and explode as a Type 2 Supernova. For smaller stars, this results in a Neutron Star. For larger stars this will results in a Black Hole.