Many people would have wondered how the lifeline of stars is and its exact details. However, this is not the same for astronauts as stars and their behavior forms a part of what they study. For a normal person, there might be a number of conspicuous observations that can be made on the skies at night that might not have explanations. Astronauts are supposed to be aware of the behaviors of stars and their implications, and any possible explanation for an occurrence in the sky that might not be in accordance with the observation that would have been made under normal circumstances. One of the reasons why someone might have an interest in the behavior of stars is supernovas. This paper will be discussing, in detail all that needs to be known about supernovas.
Supernovas refer to events in astronomy, which always mark the end of the life of a star. It is always characterized. They are usually characterized by an explosion that is described as the biggest of all the explosions that take place in the sky. The result of the explosion can be described as a blindingly bright light. The light that results is in most cases described as a very bright star that appears in the sky for a short period then disappears. Apart from the massive light produced as a result of the explosion, which can go to the extent of outshining the galaxies, there is also the production of energy that might be more than the sun is able to produce for the entire period of its existence (Boyd, 2012). This might go unnoticed owing to the distance between the point where supernovas take place and the earth, from where the observation is made.
One of the details that one might be interested in having after knowing about the existence of supernovas is exactly what causes them. Supernovas usually take place whenever there is a change in the center or core of a star. However, it should be noted that a change in the core of a star does not necessarily take place in a single manner. There are a couple of ways through which a change in the core of a star can take place.
To understand the two causes of supernovas, it will be helpful to discuss them in the form of the two types of supernovas, which are determined by the cause. One of the types of supernovas usually takes place in binary star systems (Jackson, 2008). A binary star system refers to a system consisting of two stars, which orbit the same place. One of the two stars, which is a carbon-oxygen white dwarf is known for stealing matter from the other star. As a result of the process, the white dwarf ends up accumulating a lot of matter. When the white dwarf accumulates such a huge quantity of matter, they end up exploding, thus leading to supernovas. By the time of the explosion, the mass of the white dwarf is believed to be the same as the mass of the sun while its volume is believed to be similar to that of the earth. One thing that leads to the explosion is the fact that as the mass of the white dwarf increases, the pressure and temperature within it increases too. The increase in pressure and temperature continues to the point that there is an ignition of a nuclear fusion at the center of the star. The white dwarf is usually so dense that the fusion usually moves rapidly from the center with the release of tremendous energy, leading to the blowing of a part of the star.
The second type of supernova takes place when the lifetime of a single star comes to an end. Just like human beings, stars also have their own lifetime (Barlow, Krause, Swinyard, Sibthorpe, Besel, Wesson, & Hargrave, 2010). As the stars shine, they usually use energy fuel, which is not a renewable source of energy. This is an implication that at some point a star will run out of nuclear energy. When this takes place there is some mass that usually finds its way to the core of the star. When mass flows to the core, it is obvious that the core of the star will gain some mass. This takes place to a point whereby the core of the star can no longer stand its own gravitational pull. When it gets to this point the core of the star collapses. The collapse of the core of the star results in an explosion which is simply referred to as supernova, or at least one form of a supernova. One of the reasons as to why the sun is known to be a star yet does not experience supernovas is that it does not have enough mass to enable it to go through a supernova, something that explains why there should be no expectation of the explosion of the sun as an end of its lifetime. This would be highly catastrophic.
A question that would arise after the knowledge of exactly what a supernova is and the possible causes is the reason as to why astronauts study it. Despite the fact that a supernova usually lasts for a very short period of time, there are a lot of things about the universe that astronauts can be able to learn from a supernova. The type of supernova that results from the white dwarf accumulating mass shows astronauts that the universe is ever-expanding. Astronauts have also come to the realization that supernovas play an important role in the distribution of elements throughout the universe. At the moment when the explosion takes place, there are debris and elements that are always shot into space. Many of the elements that are found on Earth are made in the center of stars that are released during the explosion that characterizes supernova. The elements usually travel and later form new stars or planers. The elements are also responsible for the formation of everything else that is found in the universe (Enqvist & Mattsson, 2007). Therefore, it can be said that the study of supernovas has been helpful for astronauts in the understanding of the things that exist in the universe and the manner in which they came to exist. The study of supernovas can also be said to be a way through which astronauts can further comprehend the relationship between the components of the universe.
In order to be able to study supernovas, astronauts have to look for them. This is an implication that looking for supernovas and the knowledge of how to is of high importance for an astronaut who aims at knowing more about supernovas. There are different telescopes that are used by scientists in finding and studying supernovas. Some of these telescopes are effective in the observation of the visible light that usually results from the explosion. Other telescopes used by scientists also have the ability of recording data from the gamma rays and X-rays that are always produced during a supernova with the aim of having more information about a specific supernova and differentiating the nature and magnitude of supernovas (Drout, Soderberg, Gal-Yam, Cenko, Fox, Leonard, & Green, 2011). NASA has two types of telescopes known by the names: Chandra X-ray Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope that are used in the observation of supernovas. Both types of telescopes have been successful in capturing images of supernovas.
The observation and study of supernovas have highly evolved over the past decade. In the year 2012, NASA was successful in the launching of an orbiting telescope that focused light in the region in the electromagnetic spectrum with high energy. This telescope was the first of its type. This was an endeavor that was aimed at making it easier for scientists to identify black holes and collapsed stars, thus making it easier for there to be the observation and studying of supernovas. This technology is also aimed at making it easier for scientists to find the remains of supernovas for the sake of further studies. This is believed to be a way through which there will be a better understanding of how the exploitation takes place and the elements that are always produced as a result of the explosion. This can be used to show the extent to which the study of supernovas is of importance and the steps that have been taken to make the results of the studies more detailed and informative.
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- Boyd, R. N. (2012). Stardust, supernovae, and the molecules of life: Might we all be aliens?. New York, NY: Springer.
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