Supernova Shockwave Spotted

24th March 2016

A supernova is the incredible, violent and explosive end of a star. Recently one of these extraordinary events has been seen for the first time with visible light.

The Supernova shock wave – or the shock breakout – was captured by NASA’s Keplar Space Telescope. The Keplar Telescope had to keep constantly monitoring the star as this shock wave only lasts for approximately 20 minutes.  As put by astronomer Dr Brad Tucker, “It’s like the shock wave from as nuclear bomb, only much bigger, and no one gets hurt”. The data was first captured back in 2011 though it was only seen recently the team of international astronomers found it after years of searching through the data.

Studying supernova can teach us an incredible amount about the development of the universe and the nature of matter. All heavy elements in the universe are created by supernova events, including most of the elements which make up our bodies. As famously said by the astronomer Carl Sagan: “The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of star stuff.”