Hernanz, Margarita Department of Astrophysics, Institute of Space Sciences, Faculty of Sciences, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Bellaterra, Barcelona, Spain.
Last reviewed:December 2019
- Supernova explosion
- Nuclear reactions and ejecta composition
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
Sudden brightening of a previously unnoticed star. The origin of the name nova is “nova stella,” referring to the sudden appearance of a star somewhere in the sky where apparently there had been nothing before, followed by its dimming after some weeks or months. The brightening is quite intense, reaching intrinsic luminosities up to 104–105 times that of the Sun with an energy release of 1038 joules (1045 ergs), although long distance makes novae appear as normal stars. It is known that in fact a star was already there before the nova occurred, but with a very small intrinsic brightness that made it invisible because it was far away.
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