Supernova Rendering

Supernova Illustration

This is a rendering of what a really large star going supernova might look like.  The area in white is the explosion of a star of unusually large size.  The orange portions are gasses and the yellow portion is where the fragments of the star are colliding and heating the gas rapidly.  This image was created to give a visual representation of what SN 2006gy might have looked like.  At the time in 2006, this was the brightest and most powerful supernova on record.

Astronomers, astrophysicists and other researchers around the world are constantly trying to find supernovae occurring in the universe.  Scientists at California colleges and universities have made many discoveries and breakthroughs in the study of supernovae.  If you look up public records in California you will find that in 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers from UC Berkeley, John Hopkins University and the Australian National University for their work on type 1a supernovae and dark energy.  The cosmology, astronomy and astrophysics programs at the California Institute of Technology, Stanford University, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara consistently rank among the best in the country.

Most people that are interested in supernovae use whatever telescopes they can get access to, but researchers at certain colleges and universities are able to access specialized telescopes like NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. It’s a telescope that orbits the Earth and that has a specialized purpose of being able to observe X-ray emissions from supernovae, clustered galaxies and the materials around black holes.

In 2012, NASA launched NuSTAR, an orbiting telescope that can focus light in the high energy X-ray spectrum.  The telescope is also able to detect X-ray activity and will automatically aim at supernovae and other explosions involving gamma rays.  This telescope is a significant development for astronomers and required a great deal of collaboration between leading researchers at several universities and NASA.  Hopefully we will have access to a telescope one day that will provide an actual image of a star going supernova instead of having to create a rendering.