CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHRIS BUTLER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Artist's impression of a detonating supernova as it immolates its solar system. This is a type II supernova, the kind which characterises the explosion of a massive star at the end of its life. Stars which become type II supernovae have a mass of at least four times that of the Sun. Usually several solar masses of gas are thrown off at speeds of around 5000 kilometres per second.
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