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.