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Supernovas and Remnants (Illustrations)

SNR Infographic
1. Supernova Infographic
Every 50 years or so, a massive star in our galaxy blows itself apart in a supernova explosion.(Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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2. Artist's Concept: A close-up of SN 2006gy
This artist's illustration shows what the brightest supernova ever recorded, known as SN 2006gy, may have looked like. The fireworks-like material (white) shows the explosive death of an extremely massive star. Before it exploded, the star expelled the lobes of cool gas (red). As the material from the explosion crashes into the lobes, it heats the gas in a shock front (green, blue and yellow) and pushes it backward. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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3. Illustration of Stellar Explosion of SN 2006gy
This illustration explains the process that astronomers think triggered the explosion in SN 2006gy. When a star is very massive, its core can produce so much gamma-ray light that some of the energy from the radiation is converted into particle and anti-particle pairs. The resulting drop in energy causes the star to collapse under its own huge gravity. After this violent collapse, runaway thermonuclear reactions (not shown here) ensue and the star explodes, spewing the remains into space. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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A New Line of Stellar Evolution
4. A New Line of Stellar Evolution
This graphic gives a summary of our best current understanding of the evolution of stars, showing their birth, middle age and eventual demise. The lowest mass stars are shown at the bottom and the highest mass stars at the top. The very top line is a new addition, compelled by the detection of SN 2006gy, that describes the evolution of the most massive stars in the universe. Observational evidence for the special type of explosion shown here - which is incredibly bright and obliterates the star rather than producing a black hole - was lacking until SN 2006gy was found. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Blue Supergiant Star
Blue Supergiant Star
Blue Supergiant Wind
Blue Supergiant Wind
Supernova Explosion
Supernova Explosion
5. Supergiant stars
Massive blue supergiant stars and their lives with a supernova explosion. Before a massive star explodes, it ejects a shell of matter in a blue supergiant wind (B). When a star explodes it can shine with the brilliance of a billion suns. View the animation. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/D.Berry & A.Hobart)

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Pre-Supernova Star
6. Pre-Supernova Star
As it nears the end of its evolution, heavy elements produced by nuclear fusion inside the star are concentrated toward the center of the star. (Illustrations: NASA/CXC/S. Lee)

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Pre-Supernova Star
7. Relative Abundance
The pie-chart on the left shows the average abundance by weight of the elements for the sun, which is thought to be close to the average for the universe as a whole. The pie chart on the right shows the abundance by weight of elements in humans. (Illustration: NASA/CXC / T. Truong)

Pre-Supernova Star
8. Birth of a Neutron Star and Supernova Remnant
At the end of its evolution, the central core of a massive star collapses to form a neutron star. This collapse releases a tremendous amounts of energy that powers a supernova explosion. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/S. Lee)

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9. Illustration of Dynamics of Supernova 1987A
Long ago, the massive star that produced Supernova 1987A lost most of its outer layers in a slowly moving stellar wind that formed a vast cloud of gas. Before the star exploded, a high-speed wind from the star carved out a cavity in the cool gas cloud. The red ring in the illustration represents the inner edge of the cloud of cool gas. The fingers protruding inward were produced by the interaction of the high-speed wind with the dense circumstellar cloud. The collision of the outward-moving supernova shock wave (yellow) with the dense fingers of cool gas produce bright spots (white) of optical and X-ray emission. The expanding debris (blue) of the exploded star lags behind the shock wave and, except for a thin shell around the outer edge (gold), is too cool to produce X-rays. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

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Supernova Remnants
10. Illustration of Shock Waves in Supernova Remnants
The supernova explosion of a star ejects most (Type II), and in some cases all (Type Ia), of the star into space at speeds of millions of miles per hour into the circumstellar gas. This event generates shock waves that produce shells of hot gas and high-energy particles that are observed for hundreds and thousands of years as supernova remnants. The supersonic expansion of the ejecta into the circumstellar gas generates a forward shock wave that speeds ahead of the ejecta. Like an extreme version of sonic booms produced by the supersonic motion of airplanes, the forward shock wave produces sudden, large changes in pressure and temperature behind the shock wave (purple). The hot, high pressure gas (purple) behind the forward shock expands and pushes back on the ejecta, causing a reverse shock that heats the ejecta (orange). Eventually, the reverse shock wave will traverse the cool ejecta (blue) and heat it. An observer surfing along with the front edge of the ejecta would see the reverse shock moving inward, and the forward shock moving outward. A distant observer would see both shells moving outward, at differing velocities. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Type IA (Thermonuclear) Supernova
11. Type IA (Thermonuclear) Supernova
Type Ia supernovas are observed in all kinds of galaxies, and are produced by white dwarf stars, the condensed remnant of what used to be sun-like stars. (Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)