MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MEHAU KULYK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Supernova. Computer artwork of a galaxy which has a star exploding as a supernova. The supernova is centred on the eight 'diffraction spikes' which occur when part of an image is overexposed. A sup- ernova occurs when a star of more than a few solar masses runs out of nuclear 'fuel' in its core. The star rapidly collapses under gravity, temporarily creating enough energy to make the star explode. A supernova can shine brighter than an entire galaxy before fading over time. In the supernova explos- ion, some of the outer gas shell of the star is blown out into space along with some heavy elem- ents from the core. The core will collapse furth- er, possibly forming a neutron star or black hole.
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