The Life Cycle of Stars #SaturdayMorningCartoons

There’s a weird supernova that has scientists scratching their head, so here’s a video from Doodle Science that will give the basics of the life cycle of a star.

And here’s a longer video that goes in-depth on star formation, explosion, and all the different forms stars can take — in life and death.

Here’s a bit on the weird supernova from The Verge:

In September 2014, when astronomer Iair Arcavi found a new supernova in the night sky, he didn’t think much of it. It looked like any other star that had just died and violently burst apart. The object had brightened some time ago, and now it was fading — a sign that the explosive event was coming to an end. Since the juiciest part seemed to be over, Arcavi abandoned the star in search of supernovae that had exploded more recently.

But robotic telescopes continued to monitor the star over the next couple of months, just in case anything interesting happened. Then, in early 2015, Arcavi asked a student to look through telescope data to see if any of the stars they had found might be acting strange. Sure enough, that “ordinary” supernova wasn’t so normal anymore. It was getting brighter — almost as if it had exploded again. “We’ve never seen a supernova do that before,” Arcavi, an observational astronomer at UC Santa Barbara and Las Cumbres Observatory, tells The Verge.

This immediately intrigued Arcavi, so he and his team started monitoring the star every couple days with the Las Cumbres Observatory’s telescopes located all over the world. Over the next two years, their data unveiled just how strange the supernova was: it stayed bright for a lengthy 600 days, instead of the typical 100 days supernovae usually shine before finally going dark. During this time, the star repeatedly grew brighter and fainter up to five times. It was like it was erupting over and over again, as if the star just refused to die.

This supernova, detailed today in the journal Nature, is unlike anything ever observed before. Now, scientists are scrambling to figure out what may have caused the strange fluctuations they saw. The leading idea is that this may have been something of an imposter — an event that looks like a supernova, but doesn’t ultimately lead to the destruction of a star. But even the best theories don’t quite match what astronomers observed, so the origins of this supernova still remain something of a mystery. “No existing model or theory of supernovae fully explains what we see here,” says Arcavi.

Learn more at Nature!

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