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Novas and Supernovas

18 Aug 2013, 00:00 UTC
Novas and Supernovas
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Several times a year, somewhere in the universe, a star suddenly becomes much brighter. Then it fades to its usual brightness. This is called a nova. Every few centuries, a star suddenly becomes much brighter and then fades out of existence. That's called a supernova. Let me tell you more about what makes them different. Continue reading →

¡SkyCaramba! Weekly astronomy blog for the week ending August 24, 2013
Several times a year, somewhere in the universe, a star suddenly becomes much brighter. Then it fades to its usual brightness. This is called a nova. Every few centuries, a star suddenly becomes much brighter and then fades out of existence. That’s called a supernova. Let me tell you more about what makes them different.
The word nova is Latin for new. The first known novas were so named because astronomers thought they were seeing new stars. Many of them had been too dim to see with the naked eye or even a telescope. So it’s no wonder they’d be mistaken for new stars when they couldn’t be seen before brightening up a lot.
Only some stars can erupt in brightness to become novas. They are white dwarfs, which are very ...

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