News FocusAstronomy

How Do Stars Explode?

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  01 Jun 2012:
Vol. 336, Issue 6085, pp. 1094-1095
DOI: 10.1126/science.336.6085.1094

You are currently viewing the summary.

View Full Text

Summary

When a star's fuel has been spent, it explodes into a giant fireball known as a supernova, producing the brilliance of multiple suns and sometimes outshining entire galaxies. How these explosions occur has been a subject of observational and theoretical study for decades. In recent years, advances in supercomputing have enabled astronomers to simulate the internal conditions of stars with increasing sophistication, helping them to better understand the mechanics of stellar explosions. Yet, many details of what goes on inside a star leading up to an explosion, as well as how that explosion unfolds, remain a mystery.