Supercomputer Simulations Reveal Supernova’s Insides

BY Jenny Marder  April 22, 2011 at 11:00 AM EDT

Imagine being able to see inside a star during the moments before it explodes. In the National Science Foundation’s* latest Science Nation piece, Science Correspondent Miles O’Brien shows us how Princeton University astrophysicist Adam Burrows uses computer generated, three-dimensional images to peer inside supernovae and to study the patterns that occur as these stars collapse and explode.

“Supernova are important for a variety of reasons,” Burrows explains in the piece. “The material that’s ejected in the supernova mixes with the interstellar medium. That material will start to collapse. Some of that gas will form the next generation of stars. And you’ll go through the same cycle again. But they’re also the source of many of the heavy elements of nature.”

*For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.