What is a supernova?
As you look up in the night sky you can
see thousands of stars. If it were not for those stars, you
and everything you see around you would not exist. The stars
manufacture all the elements during the process of nuclear fusion.
Stars are formed in gas clouds called nebulae. Gravity brings these
dust and gas particles together constantly increasing the mass at the
center. As the mass increases it heats up and at some point the
temperature will be hot enough for the Hydrogen atoms to fuse an
igniting the star.
Initially, a star will burn Hydrogen , the
most abundant element in our universe, fusing two hydrogen atoms to make
Helium. One of the by-products of this activity is the creation of a
Photon particle (that's the light you see).
As stars use up their hydrogen fuel they start
to fuse the Helium atoms to form Carbon.
If size of the star is similar to our sun the fusion
process could stop here. The star's outer gas envelope would expand
becoming a Red Giant and eventually be blown into space leaving
behind a white dwarf star, extremely hot and dense with a core of
carbon. Some scientist believe that the center of a white dwarf
consists of a gigantic carbon crystal (Diamond).
Stars larger that our sun will manufacture elements
all the way down the periodic table to iron. All the fusion
processes prior to iron, generate sufficient energy to counter act the
forces of gravity which is trying to crush the star. However the iron
atoms absorb the energy around them giving gravity the upper hand
and allowing it to crush the star. This happens with such force that
the star explodes in a type II supernova. This explosion spreads the
created element throughout the universe. This star collapse happens in
Our sun being a single star is an oddity. Most stars
exist in binary or multiple star configuration rotating around a common
center of gravity. One of these binary stars might be a white dwarf that
is sucking the gas away from it's companion. In doing so it accretes
more mass becoming hotter and hotter, At some point it will explode in a
violent type Ia supernova
Super massive stars that that explode in a hyper
nova create such a tremendous shockwave that it forces the iron
atoms to fuse into heavier metals such as lead and gold, etc.
All these elements that are spread into the
universe eventually congeal and form other stars and plants and, yes,
you and I.
We are truly made of star dust.
The links at the left take you to web pages that
document the brightness of various
supernovae that I was
able to capture data for. The graphs depict the brightness of the
supernova over time as well as how it's intensity in visible light
compares to that of our sun if the two were at the same distance
The measurements were taken in the visible light
without any color filters except a Baader UHC-s filter using an Orion
SSP V2 on a SN8 at 5 minute exposure dark subtracted and flat applied .
If you are interested in how to convert ADU
( Analog Digital Units)
values to a Magnitude value, check out this link
You will need the ADU and Magnitude numbers for a reference star
in the same field as the primary object as well as the ADU value of the
object in question. I use Nebulosity to get the ADU figures.
A listing of Supernovae brighter than
17 Mag. can be found at this site
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