FEB 07, 2017 8:28 AM PST

Hubble Spies on a Spectacular Star Explosion

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

As stars reach the end of their lives, they explode. This is the process where the nuclear fusion going on inside of the star is no longer powerful enough to hold back the power of gravitational forces that want to crush the materials that make up the star.

Fusion usually stops when there is too much iron in a star, because it’s an element that’s too dense to go through the process. Fusion is most efficient when hydrogen is the main element, simply because it’s a simple element on an atomic level and it’s rarer than iron.

A star’s explosion can be catastrophic for all of its surrounding planets, but it leaves behind a spectacular show that can sometimes be observed from afar, and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope recently spied on one coming from the constellation of Puppis, which is more than 5,000 light years away from Earth.

Hubble captured the following star explosion, which astronomers are currently observing.

Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgement: Judy Schmidt

NASA goes on to explain that the star was a low-mass star, similar to our Sun. That said, if your Sun ever did explode, we can only guess that it would look a little something like this.

During this point in its life, it was a red giant. This basically means that the star was running out of hydrogen and building up too much iron. When the star didn’t have the guts to carry out fusion anymore, it went right into flashbang mode, and so here we can now see the star spewing material in either directions as a result of the explosion.

The two streams of material are being sent in the exact opposite directions at a speed of around 621,371 miles per hour. Comparatively, the average bullet leaves a gun’s barrel at 1,700 miles per hour, so just to put into perspective how fast this material is moving… let’s just say… FAST!

The gasses are being ejected into space and are forming what will soon be a planetary nebula.

The explosive event should all be over within the next one-thousand years or so. While that might sound long to you and I, it’s the blink of an eye in terms of astronomy; the universe is more than 13.8 billion years old.

These kinds of discoveries are exciting for astronomers because it’s not often that you get to have a front-row seat to the death of a star. Although the astronomers probably don’t have any bags of popcorn to watch the event, they are watching it carefully to try and learn something spectacular from it.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAY 02, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
MAY 02, 2021
Average Day on Venus Lasts 243 Earth Days
Although Venus is our planet’s closest neighbour, its fundamental properties have remained largely unknown. Now th ...
JUN 12, 2021
Cancer
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
JUN 12, 2021
Using astronomy to image cancer tumors
In an interdisciplinary breakthrough, a recent study published in Science describes the development of a new platform, d ...
JUN 26, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Cardiac Atrophy Findings May Aid Astronauts in Long Space Flights
JUN 26, 2021
Cardiac Atrophy Findings May Aid Astronauts in Long Space Flights
Researchers led by Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have discovered the molecular process behind a da ...
AUG 16, 2021
Space & Astronomy
'Mega-Comet' on Track to Visit Solar System in 2031
AUG 16, 2021
'Mega-Comet' on Track to Visit Solar System in 2031
Astronomers at the University of Pennsylvania have found an object that's on a trajectory that will take it past Saturni ...
AUG 30, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Difference Between a Low Mass Star and a Brown Dwarf
AUG 30, 2021
The Difference Between a Low Mass Star and a Brown Dwarf
Researchers have identified five objects sitting on the border between very low-mass stars and brown dwarfs. The researc ...
SEP 01, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
New Study Suggests One-third of Binary Stars Have Engulfed Their Planets
SEP 01, 2021
New Study Suggests One-third of Binary Stars Have Engulfed Their Planets
While our solar system is relatively calm and inert, some sun-like stars out there will literally eat the planets in the ...
Loading Comments...