Supernovae

Category archives for Supernovae

Going Nuclear: How Stars Die

“After all, the universe required ten billion years of evolution before life was even possible; the evolution of the stars and the evolving of new chemical elements in the nuclear furnaces of the stars were indispensable prerequisites for the generation of life.” –John Polkinghorne There are close to a whopping 1028 atoms in your body.…

What makes a supernova so super, anyway?

Daughter, age 7: “Daddy, will the Earth always go around the Sun forever?” Louis CK: “Well no, at some point the Sun is going to explode.” Daughter: (starts crying) Louis CK: “Oh honey, this is not going to happen until you and everyone you know has been dead for a very long time.” Daughter: (continues…

“After your death you will be what you were before your birth.” –Arthur Schopenhauer If only every star’s death could be as glorious as a supernova, rocketing anywhere from thousands to millions of Earth-masses out of a star and into interstellar space. When we get one in our galaxy, like we do every few hundred…

“Where there is an observatory and a telescope, we expect that any eyes will see new worlds at once.” –Henry David Thoreau The night sky is our greatest glimpse of what lies out there, beyond our own world, in the expanse of space we know as our Universe. With our naked eyes, we are able…

Hubble for the Holidays: A Bauble of a Bubble

“When I had satisfied myself that no star of that kind had ever shone before, I was led into such perplexity by the unbelievability of the thing that I began to doubt the faith of my own eyes.” –Tycho Brahe Supernovae are the most spectacular death-knells of the largest stars in our Universe. Nearly all…

When I had satisfied myself that no star of that kind had ever shone before, I was led into such perplexity by the unbelievability of the thing that I began to doubt the faith of my own eyes. –Tycho Brahe One of the great things that the Hubble Space Telescope has given us is a…

Dark Energy: Beyond Supernovae (Part 4)

Follow humbly wherever and to whatever abyss Nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. -T.H. Huxley We’ve spent a little bit of time talking about dark energy, including what we think of it, how we first discovered it, and how we knew that there wasn’t just something out there blocking the light. It seems to…

Dark Energy: Where did the Light go? (Part 3)

Though the Sun is gone, I have a light. -Kurt Cobain Last time we visited dark energy, we discussed its initial discovery. This came about from the fact that supernovae observed with a certain redshift (i.e., moving away from us) appear to be systematically fainter than we were able to explain. But we weren’t satisfied…

Dark Energy: Gaining a Foothold (Part 2)

Last time, we talked about the discovery of dark energy. How did it happen? Well, there are certain kinds of Supernovae, type Ia supernovae, that are practically identical to one another all across the Universe. In fact, we had one happen in our own galaxy in 1572; it outshone everything besides the Moon in the…

By the 1990s, we knew an awful lot about the Universe. You can check out what the greatest discoveries were (in my opinion) from the 1910s, 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. By this point, we understood the origin of the Universe as well as we understand it today, knew about dark matter…