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Kepler Catches Early Flashes Of An Exploding Star

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A recently released video from NASA’s Ames Research Center shows the “shock breakout” of a star in its supernova phase.¬†

In this illustrated animation you see a red supergiant star 500 times bigger and 20,000 times brighter than our sun. When the star can no longer sustain the nuclear fusion in its core, it collapses under the forces of gravity.

Kepler Catches Early Flashes Of An Exploding Star
NASA’s conception of the shock breakout. Image: NASA Ames/STScl/G. Bacon

This brings with it a shockwave from the implosion that rushes upward out through the inside of the star’s layers. It breaks through the visible surface of the star in the form of plasma-like jets, and roughly 20 minutes later the star goes full supernova.

The animation is based on the observations made by NASA’s Kepler space telescope¬†closely monitoring the star KSN 2011d with is located 1.2 billion light-years from earth. Kepler caught the early flash, and released this video through Ames to detail the find.

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