FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HUMAN HISTORY, scientists have captured the shockwaves of an exploding star on camera. It was actually sheer luck that this supernova exploded in viewpoint of the Kepler Telescope when it did, scientists had to just hope that they were aiming for an active area. The video, released by NASA, features the shockwave of an exploding star about 700 million light years away from Earth. So basically, when we watch the video, we’re looking back in time to an event that happened 700 million years ago, way before humans even walked the Earth.
It’s a pretty freakin’ cool thing for us all to see.
Not to mention this star dwarfed our own sun — which is not that big in the grand scheme of space, by the way. It was 270 times our sun’s width and 12 times its mass.
Stars are made up of gas or hydrogen and helium, which is broken up by gravity in an explosion like this one and transformed into the elements we ourselves are made up of as well as the elements we use in everyday life — carbon, oxygen, gold, silicon, etc. According to Dr. Brad Tucker from the Australian National University, this discovery helps us with a few different things. He says that, “by confirming the fundamental laws of how stars blow up, we can be confident…in how stars live their lives, but more importantly, we now can confirm that and know that all of the elements we believe how they’re made, we actually do now have evidence that this is how they’re made.”
The Kepler mission will continue to monitor galaxies, searching for undiscovered planets as well as more exploding stars. Dr. Tucker expects that the Kepler mission (K2) will help build on what we already know to be true — that there are trillions of other planets in our galaxy — and better our understanding of what’s out there.