SUPERNOVAS

A massive star dies in an explosion called a supernova. Only the collapsed core remains. If the core is very dense it becomes a neutron star which rotates rapidly, sending out beams of energy. If these beams reach Earth they are picked up as pulses, and the body is called a pulsar. A supernova also occurs if a white dwarf star in a binary pair blows up when material from the other star falls on it.

SUPERNOVA 1987A

On 23 February, 1987 a brilliant new star seemed to blaze in the Large Magellanic Cloud. It was easily visible to the naked eye. In fact, it was not a new star, but an existing star (called Sanduleak -69°202) that had exploded as a supernova.

THE CRAB SNR

The glowing cloud called the Crab SNR was caused by a supernova first recorded by Chinese astronomers in ad 1054. When the supernova exploded it blasted a great cloud of gas into space. Astronomers call such a cloud a supernova remnant (SNR). Inside the Crab SNR is a pulsar, flashing on and off 30 times a second.

BIOGRAPHY: JOCELYN BELL BURNELL British, 1943-

Astronomer Bell Burnell discovered the first pulsar when working as a research student at the Cambridge radio observatory. On 6 August, 1967, she picked up an unusual radio signal: pulses repeating every 1.337 seconds. Astronomers later identified the pulses as coming from a rapidly rotating neutron star.

FIND OUT MORE

Galaxies
Nebulas

Copyright © 2007 Dorling Kindersley

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

highlights

Healthy Smile Checklist for Kids
Have better dental check-ups with this free printable checklist that helps keep your child flossing, brushing, and smiling! Brought to you by Philips Sonicare.

Kindergarten Readiness App
It's kindergarten registration time! Use this interactive kindergarten readiness checklist, complete with fun games and activities, to practice the essential skills your child needs for this next big step. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Top 10 Earth Day Books for Children
Celebrate the environment by reading some of these great children's books about Earth Day, recycling, planting trees, and all things green!

Prom Dress Trends for 2014
Check out 2014 prom dress trends inspired by celebrities’ red carpet looks, but with a price tag under $100!