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There are two kinds of supernova, Type I and Type II.

Both are caused by a sudden collapse of an old star into a neutron star or a black hole. Type II is caused by a superlarge red giant star that has spent most of it nuclear fusionable material. Type I is caused by medium sized stars that have spent all of their nuclear fuel and have become what is called a white dwarf star. When a star shine normally, there are nuclear reactions taking place inside the star that give off a flow of high energy particles towards the outer layers of the star. These high energy particles speeding in all directions form a pressure on the outer layers of the star keeping it from contracting further under the influence of gravity. But when the nuclear material is used up, then there is nothing from keeping the star from collapsing under its own weight. As you might recall, atoms are made of negatively charged electrons circling positively charge atomic nuclei. Opposite charges attract each other. Whereas like charges repel each other. So each positively charged atomic nuclei repels other positively charged nuclei. But when the force of gravity is so strong that it forces the like charged nuclei to become close enough, then each nuclei begins to feel the attractive strong nuclear force of the other nuclei. The strong nuclear force is always attractive and much stronger than the force of an electric field. But its influence is only felt when particles are very close together. The strong nuclear force is what keeps the two positively charged protons of a helium atom bound together even though they both have the same electric charge. The falling together of two particles under an attractive force always releases energy. Click here for some examples. When an electron falls towards a proton, this reaction gives off energy in the form of photons of light. When two particles fall together under the attractive strong nuclear force, this reaction gives off energy in the form of light, neutrinos, and other particles. So, when a star collapses under gravity until each particle falls together from the strong nuclear force, all these reactions giving off energy all at once is what is seen in a supernova. The only way the force of gravity among particles can overcome the electric force so as to feel the strong nuclear force is that there be a dense enough gravitational field attracting all the particles. This occurs in very large stars that have spent all their fuel or in white dwarf stars which are what remains of smaller stars when they have spent their fuel. White dwarf stars are a solid ball of very hot iron which do not undergo anymore nuclear processes. Iron is the heaviest element that gives off energy in the process of making it. Heavier elements actually require energy to make. And in order to sustain the chain reaction in a star, the elements it makes must give off energy so as to force other particles together and produce still more reactions. So when a smaller

star has reached the point of producing a core of iron, any further reactions in the outer layers have a tendency of blowing off the outer layers until only the core of iron remains to cool over a very long period of time. If these white dwarf stars collect even more material, then the gravitational forces can be enough to still cause it to collapse under the strong nuclear force to form a neutron star or black hole. The result is a Type I supernova. When a normal star becomes a white dwarf, it is possible that what remains may be very close to having enough mass to produce the gravitational field needed to collapse it and cause a supernova. It would only require a small amount of additional mass to send it over the edge. This additional mass might be collected by interstellar gas. However, a white dwarf can collect material from a neighboring star if they are orbiting each other very closely. Such systems are called binary systems because there are two stars orbiting each other. White dwarfs are very hot at first and cool over a long period of time. Those that have cooled enough cannot be seen. Larger stars spend their fuel more quickly and their remaining white dwarfs are more massive and need less material to go supernova. So, if it is a darker white dwarf that will supernova, then it must have been cooling and gathering material over a longer period of time. And if it has been cooling for a long period of time, then it must have formed early in the life of the universe and spent its fuel quickly. And if it spent its fuel quickly, then it must be massive and close to the edge. So if it is dark by now, then it is more likely that it has collected enough material to go supernova. There is some debate as to how close a supernova must be to cause damage to the earth. Most agree that anything closer than 50 light years would be felt. Anything about 1 light year away would probably incinerate the earth completely.

Why Do Stars Twinkle While Planets Do Not?


Stars, except for the Sun, although they may be millions of miles in diameter, are very far away. They appear as point sources even when viewed by telescopes. The planets in our solar system, much smaller than stars, are closer and can be resolved as disks with a little bit of magnification (field binoculars, for example). Since the Earth's atmosphere is turbulent, all images viewed up through it tend to "swim." The result of this is that sometimes a single point in object space gets mapped to two or more points in image space, and also sometimes a single point in object space does not get mapped into any

point in image space. When a star's single point in object space fails to map to at least one point in image space, the star seems to disappear temporarily. This does not mean the star's light is lost for that moment. It just means that it didn't get to your eye, it went somewhere else. Since planets represent several points in object space, it is highly likely that one or more points in the planet's object space get mapped to a points in image space, and the planet's image never winks out. Each individual ray is twinkling away as badly as any star, but when all of those individual rays are viewed together, the next effect is averaged out to something considerably steadier. The result is that stars tend to twinkle, and planets do not. Other extended objects in space, even very far ones like nebulae, do not twinkle if they are sufficiently large that they have non-zero apparent diameter when viewed from the Earth.
Question: Why do stars twinkle? helen m vonderheide Answer: Earth's atmosphere is turbulent. When light from stars passes through the atmosphere, it gets refracted from the straight line path. As a result of this, the light reaches us from different points in the sky. These directions are actually very close to each other but not the same. This shifting of the image results in what we call twinkling. Twinkling can effect objects with size smaller than the shift caused by atmosphere, therefore, only stars twinkle and not the Sun, Moon or the Planets. Jasjeet
THE SCIENCE OF STARS

Twinkle twinkle little star There aren't many nursery rhymes about astronomy. But 'twinkle twinkle little star' makes a useful point. We can tell which lights in the night sky are stars because they appear to twinkle. Planets, on the other hand, don't, they shine steadily in the sky. Stars twinkle because they are very far away, and so appear as tiny points of light in our night sky. Some of this light is absorbed by moving air in the Earth's atmosphere, making the star appear to sparkle. Planets, like Saturn or Jupiter, don't sparkle. This is because they are a lot closer to the Earth and so they look bigger in our sky than stars. Explore the planets with our travel guide The brightest star in space - the Pistol Star

Rather than being points of light, planets are small discs. As their light is more spread out, even if some of it is absorbed by our atmosphere, some of the light still filters through, so the planet

doesn't twinkle. This means that you can tell the difference between a planet and a star without even needing a telescope, just by seeing if it twinkles! Weighing a star As for 'wondering what they are', starlight also contains an extraordinary amount of information that can answer that very question. Weighing a star isn't as difficult as it sounds as you don't need an enormous set of cosmic scales, just one equation. The more massive a star is, the more energy it gives off. So first of all, astronomers measure the star's 'luminosity', the rate at which it emits energy. Then they can work out its mass. Measuring a star's temperature Once the mass of the star is known, you can calculate the temperature inside its burning core. Stars perform a delicate balancing act between gas pressure pushing outwards and gravity pulling inwards. Mathematical equations can be used to map this. Then by measuring the size and mass of the star, astronomers can calculate the temperature of the core.

What's inside a star? Even more incredibly, just by looking at starlight astronomers can discover what a star is made from. The light that we see is just one kind of radiation known as 'visible light'. Other kinds include X-rays, ultraviolet, microwaves, radio waves and infrared. Different stars give out varying amounts of these signals, known as their 'spectrum'. When measured, the spectrum appears as a series of bright and dark lines positioned at specific points or 'frequencies'. This is the blueprint of a star and provides a wealth of information about what is happening inside.

As elements are heated inside the star, they absorb and emit energy, creating a 'blip' in the star's spectrum. So the position and strength of these lines reveal what elements are inside the star. Stars are classified into 'spectral types' according to the shape of this spectrum. Find out what happens inside a star

Looking back in time Although time travel isn't physically possible yet, we can see back in time just by looking out into space. Light from the Sun takes 8 minutes to reach Earth. So we are seeing what the Sun looked like 8 minutes ago. The faint Proxima Centauri, our nearest stellar neighbour, lags behind by 4.2 years. So, the further we look out into space, the further we are looking into the past. The distance that light travels in a year is called a 'light year'. The furthest that astronomers have ever seen are about 12 billion light years away, from a time just after the Big Bang, when the Universe was just a baby.

Pole star
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Jump to: navigation, search For other uses, see Polestar (disambiguation). "North Star" redirects here. For other uses, see North Star (disambiguation).

A French "navisphere": a type of celestial globe formerly used for navigation at sea

A pole star is a visible star, especially a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent position is close to one of the celestial poles, and which lies approximately directly overhead when viewed from the Earth's North Pole or South Pole. (A similar concept also applies to other planets.) The term "the Pole Star" usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star. The south celestial pole currently lacks a bright star like Polaris to mark its position. At present, the naked-eye star nearest to this imaginary point is the faint Sigma Octantis, which is sometimes known as the South Star. While other stars' apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, pole stars' apparent positions remain essentially fixed. This makes them especially useful in celestial navigation: they are a dependable indicator of the direction toward the respective geographic pole, and their angle of elevation can also be used to determine latitude.

The identity of the pole stars gradually changes over time because the celestial poles exhibit a slow continuous drift through the star field. The primary reason for this is the precession of the Earth's rotational axis, which causes its orientation to change over time. If the stars were fixed in space, precession would cause the celestial poles to trace out imaginary circles on the celestial sphere approximately once every 26,000 years, passing close to different stars at different times. However, the stars themselves exhibit motion relative to each other, and this so-called proper motion is another cause of the apparent drift of pole stars.