When Stars Explode

These images may look like modern art, but they are actually accurate 3-D computer simulations of supernovas, where massive stars come to the end of their lives and become cosmic beacons that can briefly outshine an entire galaxy. They take months to produce on supercomputers, but these new 3-D simulations are giving scientists new insights into the phenomena that created most of the elements that allow life to exist: “Two-thirds of the iron in our blood comes from these thermonuclear explosions from billions of years ago,” explains astronomer Stan Woosley of the University of California, Santa Cruz. “We are all the great-great-grandchildren of supernovas.”

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