Saturday, January 15, 2011


While searching the skies for black holes using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers discovered a giant supernova that was smothered in its own dust. In this artist's rendering, an outer shell of gas and dust -- which erupted from the star hundreds of years ago -- obscures the supernova within. This event in a distant galaxy hints at one possible future for the brightest star system in our own Milky Way. 
Image Credit NASA/JPL-Caltech

Exploding stars are the 'factories' that produce all the heavy elements found, among other places, in our bodies. In this sense, we are all stardust. These exploding stars – supernovae – are highly energetic events that can occasionally light up the night sky. Such an explosion generally involves disruption in the balance between gravity – which pulls the star's material inward – and the thermonuclear reaction at the star's core – which heats it and pushes it outward.

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