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Supernovae 

 

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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 milliseconds.

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 from us.   

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 http://www.warren-wilson.edu/~physics/Contemp-Astronomy/starmag/starmag.html. 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
http://www.rochesterastronomy.org/snimages/

 

(This Page was last changed 05/19/2017)

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