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This animation shows a gigantic star exploding in a "core collapse" supernova. As atoms fuse inside the star, eventually the star can't support its own weight anymore. Gravity makes the star collapse on itself. Core collapse supernovae are called type Ib, Ic, or II depending on the chemical elements present.
Stellar explosions forge and distribute materials that make up the world in which we live, and also hold clues to how fast the universe is expanding. By understanding supernovae, scientists can unlock mysteries that are key to what we are made of and the fate of our universe. But to get the full picture, scientists must observe supernovae from a variety of perspectives, especially in the first moments of the explosion. That's really difficult -- there's no telling when or where a supernova might happen next.
NASA Ames manages the Kepler and K2 missions for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. JPL managed Kepler mission development. Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corporation operates the flight system with support from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
For more information on the Kepler and the K2 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/Kepler.
For more information about exoplanets, visit https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/.