Woosley, Stan E. Lick Observatory, Santa Cruz, California.
Last reviewed:February 2019
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- Observational characteristics
- Type II
- Type I
- Theory of Type Ia supernovae
- Theory of Type II supernovae
- Type Ia cosmological applications
- Exotic supernovae
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The catastrophic, explosive death of a star, accompanied by the sudden, transient brightening of the star to an optical luminosity comparable to that of an entire galaxy. A supernova shines typically for several weeks to several months with a luminosity between 200 million and 5 billion times that of the Sun, then gradually fades away. Each explosion ejects from one to several tens of solar masses, or equivalent Sun masses, at speeds ranging from thousands to tens of thousands of kilometers per second. The total kinetic energy, 1044 joules (2.5 × 1028 megatons of high explosive), is about 100 times the total light output, making supernovae some of the highest-energy explosions in the universe (Fig. 1). Unlike its fainter relative, the nova, a supernova does not recur for the same object. See also: Galaxy; Nova; Star; Universe
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