MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY MARK GARLICK / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Animation of type Ia supernova. A supernova is the explosive death of a star. Type Ia supernovae arise in systems containing two stars, one of them being a white dwarf. A white dwarf is an extremely dense remnant of a Sun-like star that has burnt all its fuel. The high density of the dwarf causes it to accrete material from its companion star, and when the dwarf approaches a specific mass, known as the Chandrasekhar Limit, it explodes violently, scattering the stellar material outwards at thousands of kilometres per second. The ejected material forms an expanding shell called a supernova remnant.
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