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Known as a transient astronomical phenomenon, a supernova is an explosion of a massive star. During these outbursts, the energy released in a short timespan can quickly attain the total energy given off by our sun over its whole lifespan of ten billion years.
See the fact file below for more information on the supernova or alternatively, you can download our 23-page Supernova worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- The name is derived from the Latin word nova, meaning “new”.
- Supernovae are more luminous than novae, referring to a temporary new bright star.
- The term “supernova” was first used by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931 at Mount Wilson Observatory. They came up with the term because of its similarity to an explosive event they had observed in the Andromeda galaxy, called S Andromedae (SN 1885A).
HISTORY OF SUPERNOVA OBSERVATIONS
- Before the invention of the telescope, different ancient civilizations had already recorded sightings of supernovae. Historically, there are only seven supernovae observations that have been recorded before the 17th century.
- RCW 86, the oldest recorded supernova, was witnessed by Chinese astronomers in 185 A.D. According to NASA, this “guest star” was said to have stayed in the sky for eight months.
- Crab Nebula, the most famous supernova which occurred on July 5, 1054, was documented by Chinese and Korean astronomers, and was seen above the southern horn of the constellation Taurus.
- According to their findings, this stellar explosion could be seen during daytime for 23 days, and in the night sky, with the naked eye, for 653 days. It may also have been witnessed by southwestern American Indians, based on the rock paintings found in Arizona and New Mexico.
- SN 393, a supernova reported by the Chinese, was seen in the year 393 C.E. Documents said that a “guest star” was visible from February 27 to March 28 of the 18th year of the Tai-Yuan reign period, which was found within the Wěi asterism. Asterisms are collections of stars, smaller than constellations.
- The most luminous supernova ever recorded, SN 1006, occurred from April 30 and May 1, 1006 A.D. in the constellation of Lupus. This “guest star” was visible across China, Japan, Egypt, Iraq, and the continent of Europe.
- Chinese and Japanese astronomers witnessed SN 1181, first observed between August 4 and August 6, 1181. This supernova was seen in the constellation Cassiopeia, appearing in the night sky for 185 days.
- SN 1572, which appeared in November 1572, was a type la supernova – a stellar explosion between a white dwarf and any star.
- It was found in the Cassiopeia constellation and was one of the eight supernovae in the Milky Way galaxy visible to the naked eye.
- SN 1604, also called Kepler’s Supernova, was also a type Ia supernova found in the Milky Way in 1604, in the constellation Ophiuchus.
- In the 20th century, SN 1987a is one of the most famous supernovae and is still being observed because astronomers can study its evolution after the explosion.
TYPE I SUPERNOVAE
- Thought to come from white dwarf stars in a system of two close astronomical bodies, the type I supernova lacks hydrogen in their light spectra. As the gas from the companion star piles up and compresses the white dwarf, the latter ignites a nuclear reaction inside, resulting in a cataclysmic supernova explosion.
- It has three subgroups based on their spectra: Ia, Ib, and Ic. Type Ia supernovae, also known as “standard candles”, are the most famous, used as probes for measuring cosmic distances because of their absolute luminosity.
- Both type Ib and Ic are caused by the core collapse of a massive star.
- Type Ib loses its outer hydrogen before the final explosion.
- Type Ic, on the other hand, has no trace of helium, hydrogen, and silicon in its envelope.
- A core collapse happens when the core of the star has reached its capacity of maintaining back-pressure against the gravitational pressure caused by the outer layers of the star.
TYPE II SUPERNOVAE
- Known as the classic explosion, the type II supernova has hydrogen absorption lines in their spectrum. These are massive stars whose iron cores disintegrate and then revives, shock heating other layers, thus, causing an outward explosion.
- The iron core reaches the Chandrasekhar Mass, about 1.4 times heavier than the mass of the sun.
- Neutrino outburst and rebound shock waves are the reasons why the whole star explodes, resulting in a type II supernova.
- A neutron star, the remnant of this stellar explosion, is an ultra-dense object that can gather the mass of the sun given a small space.
- Subcategories of the type II supernovae are grouped based on their light curves.
- Astronomers believe that stars with 20 to 30 solar masses are more massive than the sun and might not burst like a supernova, but rather shatter and turn into a black hole.
- A black hole is an area of space with a gravitational field that is so extreme that nothing – even light – can escape from it.
HOW ARE SUPERNOVAE STUDIED?
- Different kinds of telescopes are used to search and study supernovae.
- Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR, one of the many apparatus used by NASA, features an x-ray vision to explore the universe.
- Other telescopes observe visible light from the supernova aftermath, while some record data from x-rays and gamma rays.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the supernova across 23 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Supernova worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the supernova which is an explosion of a massive star. During these outbursts, the energy released in a short timespan can quickly attain the total energy given off by our sun over its whole lifespan of ten billion years.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Supernova Facts
- Blasts From the Past
- Two Types
- Supernova Zoo
- Super Not Not Nova
- A Star is Born: Stellar Life Cycle
- Core Collapse
- Super and Nova
- Celestial Vocabulary
- Supernova Spotted
- Cosmic Comics
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Link will appear as Supernova Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, November 8, 2019
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.