Photo: Supernova "Shock Breakout" Seen From Red Giant -- A 1st



A sequence of ultraviolet images released in June 2008 shows a supernova from start to finish. Just before the explosion, the host galaxy (top left) appears relatively quiet. Then a bright ultraviolet flash called a shock breakout (top right) signals that the core of a red supergiant star has collapsed.

Moments later the flash is mostly gone, although remnants of the star continue to spread outward (bottom left). The debris expands quickly, heating up again and becoming brighter (bottom right). A few days later it wwould be ten times the size of the original star and would be visible to supernova hunters.

Images courtesy NASA/HST/COSMOS/GALEX


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