Supernovae

Supernova remnant N49

Supernovae

When a star reaches the end of its life and burns out the last of its nuclear fuel, it becomes unstable. What happens next depends how much mass the star has.

Stars born with masses many times greater than that of the Sun are predicted to die in violent explosions called supernovae.

A supernova begins with the star collapsing when it can no longer support itself against gravity's inward pressure. After the collapse, it blasts its outer layers into space. The star's core is left behind in the collapsed form of a neutron star or black hole.

Image: A supernova remnant called N49 in the Large Magellanic Cloud (NASA/STScI/UIUC/Y.H.Chu & R.Williams et al.)

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Supernova remnant N49

Introduction

Stars can die in massive explosions.