This Week In NASA History: In 1604 Kepler’s Supernova Observed For The First Time
By NASA // October 10, 2016
Kepler's name not applied because he discovered
ABOVE VIDEO: The supernova explosion that created this object was witnessed on Earth about 400 ago years by many skywatchers, including the astronomer Johannes Kepler. This object, which now bears Kepler’s name, is the remains of a massive star’s demise.
(NASA) – On October 9, 1604, night sky observers in northern Italy saw Kepler’s supernova for the first time. Kepler’s name was not applied to this object because he discovered it.
In Prague, meteorologist J. Brunowski, who had seen it earlier himself, told Kepler about it. Kepler observed it for the first time himself on October 17th.
He recorded observations over the next year, and in 1606 published a book about his findings, titled De Stella nova in pede Serpentarii (On the New Star in Ophiuchus’s Foot).
This long study forever associated this object with Kepler.
A supernova is a part of the life cycle of a massive star. A massive star has more mass than eight of our Suns. Over a course of millions (or billions) of years, the hydrogen in a massive star will fuse to form helium.
When that happens, the massive star becomes a red supergiant, a star with a radius hundreds to thousands the size of our Sun’s radius.
In another million years, different elements form in the shells and around the iron core as the star continues to fuse elements in the intense heat and pressure.
The core then collapses (in less than a second!) which causes an explosion called a supernova. Such an explosion is brighter than its galaxy for a short time.
The last step of this life cycle depends on the size of the remaining core – if it survived the explosion and is between 1.5 and 3 solar masses, it becomes a neutron star. If it is greater than 3 solar masses, it collapses into a black hole.
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