A star many times more massive than the Sun ends life in a spectacular explosion called a supernova.
Whereas the core of a smaller star turns into carbon too cool to create nuclear fusion, the core of a massive star becomes hot enough to spark carbon fusion.
Carbon fusion turns the core into a steel-like ball.
At 600 million°K, 1 billion°F or 600 million°C, a carbon flash ignites the star’s explosion.
Supernovae occur about once every 50 years in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way. They play a significant role in enriching the interstellar medium with higher mass elements.
The word Nova means “new” in Latin, referring to a very bright new star shining in the celestial sphere.
The Term supernova was coined by Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky, and was first documented in 1926.