Supernovae and supernova remnants

  • Hiroshi Tsunemi


A supernova explosion is among the most dramatic events that can be seen. The term ‘supernova’ is somewhat misleading, as such an event represents not a new star (that is, a ‘nova’), but instead the end of a star’s life. Nuclear fusion, the energy source of the stars, creates heavier elements from lighter elements. In this way, almost all of the elements that make up the universe, with the exception of hydrogen and helium, are created inside a star through this process. These elements accumulate inside a star over its lifetime and are dispersed into space through a supernova explosion. We may therefore say that all of the material of the Earth (excepting hydrogen and helium) were probably created inside some star many eons ago, and that they were ejected by a supernova, soon to become the primordial material of the Earth. Nuclear fusion inside a star can generate heavy elements ranging from helium up to the most stable nucleus, iron. It may therefore be said that the iron that plays such a vital role in the hemoglobin of our blood must have been generated inside a massive star that soon went supernova. This must have happened at least five billion years ago, since this is the age of our solar system.


Burning Microwave Convection Lithium Boron 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hiroshi Tsunemi
    • 1
  1. 1.Osaka UniversityJapan

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