Johannes Kepler, an astronomer for whom the Kepler satellite is named, recorded a supernova in 1604. Since then, NASA discovered evidence of a supernova that occurred a century ago, but it was not noted on Earth at the time.
What useful role do supernovae play in the universe?
redistribution of elements
Many important elements - like helium, hydrogen and carbon - are formed during the fusion reactions of stars. When the stars explode, these elements are shot off to the rest of the universe, allowing new stars and planets to form.
The Chandrasekhar limit, discovered by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, is the point at which a star will begin to collapse because of its mass. Stars that reach the Chandrasekhar limit will become a Type II supernova.
What would happen if our sun, instead of cooling into a white dwarf, turned into a black hole?
Earth would be destroyed during its formation.
Earth would be sucked in within a couple years.
Earth would remain in its current orbit.
Since the black hole would have the same mass as the current sun, its gravitational pull would be about the same and the Earth would remain in orbit. While the planet itself would survive, saying that life on Earth would be jeopardized would be an understatement.
The entire solar system would disappear within the month.
Neutron stars are super dense because they're made up of neutrons (the uncharged particles of atoms) that have been tightly packed together. That means their constituent part is significantly smaller than an atom!
According to NASA, how much would one teaspoon of a neutron star weigh?
about 12 lbs
about 15 tons
about 7,500 tons
about four billion tons
Estimates vary, from some as low as 40 million tons up to 12 billion tons. In any case, neutron stars are so dense that their gravitational field is about two billion times greater than Earth's gravity.
What do scientists suspect occurred during the 2008 supernova SN 2008D?
it wiped out an entire system of planets
a magnetar was formed
the star collapsed into a black hole
Given some strange data recorded during the event, a popular theory in the scientific community is that the star collapsed into a black hole after exploding. Other researchers think it was just an exceptionally powerful supernova.
A neutron star becomes a pulsar under specific conditions, with the right mix of magnetic field and spin frequency. Slow pulsars rotate about once per second, while some rotate up to 700 times per second.
the pulsar expands and contracts as it heats and cools
its beams are only visible when they sweep across Earth
Pulsars rotate quickly, like beams from a lighthouse, and send a stream of X-rays in the direction of the neutron star's axis. If that jet stream faces toward Earth, scientists can pinpoint the pulsar's location.
The nebula, which contains leftover material from other stars and explosions, can eventually form a protostar if those materials knot up and condense. The prefix "proto-" means first, or earliest stage of, as in "prototype."
What event probably triggered the formation of our solar system?
white dwarf cooling
While we couldn't rule out or confirm a multi-star collision as the cause of the supernova, we can say that a supernova probably caused our solar system to form when its shock waves penetrated a nearby nebula.