JUN 10, 2016 02:33 PM PDT

Why Do Some Stars Go Boom?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham
3 4 292

Our Sun is a star that's been burning for the past 4.6 billion years. It's got about another 5 billion years to go before the fuel runs out. And when it does happen, scientists think the process will be a peaceful event, whereby the Sun turns into a white dwarf - a sort of ghostly planetary counterpart to the Sun's original state.

For better or for worse, our Sun's death won't result in a dramatic cosmic light show that is characteristic of a supernova. But what dictates whether a star will go out in a bang? As it turns out, mass has a lot to do with this cosmic event. The bigger the mass of the star, the more energy it has for the final explosive output. So, as big as the sun is to us, it's not so massive enough to produce a supernova.

If you do want to see a supernova up close, hang on for another 100,000 years or so. This is when scientists think the star Red Betelgeuse will explode in such a big bang that we can see it with the naked eye from Earth.
About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
You May Also Like
JUL 15, 2018
Videos
JUL 15, 2018
New Details on The Iceman's Diet
Researchers can look at isotopes in hair and bone samples to see whether people were vegetarians or omnivores. They can also see investigate resides left i
JUL 17, 2018
Videos
JUL 17, 2018
Encouraging Progress on HIV Vaccine
In the quest to find a vaccine against HIV which causes AIDS, most attempts have failed. The HIV epidemic began about 35 years ago and in that time only fi
JUL 24, 2018
Videos
JUL 24, 2018
Measles are on the Move
Measles is a highly contagious disease that used to be common in young children. Due to the development of vaccines, however, it’s been almost eradic
JUL 24, 2018
Videos
JUL 24, 2018
A wave of plastic is washing over the DR
Footage from a video taken by “Parley for the Ocean” on July 14, 2018, shows an actual wave of plastic washing over the shores of Santo Domingo
JUL 24, 2018
Technology
JUL 24, 2018
Can This Airplane Prevent Jet Lag?
People who travel long distances via airplane often experience a complication known as jet lag. Symptoms of jet lag disorder include fatigue, irritability,
AUG 13, 2018
Videos
AUG 13, 2018
Is Earth Running Out of Helium?
If current global demand continues, we can face a shortage of helium within the next 40 years. Helium is the second most common element after hydrogen
Loading Comments...