Skip navigation
A. A Center Devoted to Nature's Grandest Explosions

Narrator: This is Science Today. A team of astrophysicists and computer scientists are working to better understand the mechanics of massive exploding stars known as supernovae. The group is part of a newly established Center for Supernova Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Stan Woosley, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics, directs the center and describes a supernova as nature's grandest explosion.

Woosley: It's the death of a star - a star only becomes a supernova once. The sun will never become a supernova, it's too small, too light. But stars over about eight times the mass of the sun are able to live a very fast life as very bright stars and then die in this dramatic explosion called the supernova.

Narrator: Despite their prominent role in astronomy, there's still a lot about supernovae that researchers don't know.

Woosley: We like to understand supernovae not only because they're marvelous explosions with a lot of interesting physics, but because they make the elements of which we are all comprised and also because if we understand them, we can use them better to study other aspects of the universe.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.