What Is a Supernova, How Does a Star Become a Supernova, and What Does Supernova Mean In Latin?

A star many times more massive than the Sun ends life in a spectacular explosion called a supernova.

Whereas the core of a smaller star turns into carbon too cool to create nuclear fusion, the core of a massive star becomes hot enough to spark carbon fusion.

Carbon fusion turns the core into a steel-like ball.

At 600 million°K, 1 billion°F or 600 million°C, a carbon flash ignites the star’s explosion.

Supernovae occur about once every 50 years in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way. They play a significant role in enriching the interstellar medium with higher mass elements.

The word Nova means “new” in Latin, referring to a very bright new star shining in the celestial sphere.

The Term supernova was coined by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky, and was first documented in 1926.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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