Stars are essentially giant fusion reactions occurring in the vacuum of space. Because stars have so much mass, they possess powerful gravitational force—but they don’t collapse because of the outward force generated by nuclear fusion, continually converting hydrogen atoms to helium.
Sometimes stars begin orbiting each other, forming a binary star system. Typically this involves a white dwarf star and a red giant. Orbiting the red giant like a moon, the dwarf star rips matter from its companion until it essentially gags on the excess, coughing hot gas and radiation into space. This dramatic phenomenon is relatively common, and the white dwarf is not destroyed in the resulting nova.
To learn more about x-ray emissions, read about NASA’s Chandra mission: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/main/
Original caption: In Hollywood blockbusters, explosions are often among the stars of the show. In space, explosions of actual stars are a focus for scientists who hope to better understand their births, lives, and deaths and how they interact with their surroundings.
Using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, astronomers have studied one particular explosion that may provide clues to the dynamics of other, much larger stellar eruptions.
A team of researchers pointed the telescope at GK Persei, an object that became a sensation in the astronomical world in 1901 when it suddenly appeared as one of the brightest stars in the sky for a few days, before gradually fading away in brightness. Today, astronomers cite GK Persei as an example of a “classical nova,” an outburst produced by a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star, the dense remnant of a Sun-like star.
Read Full Article: www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/mini-supernova-explosi...
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center enables NASA’s mission through four scientific endeavors: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Solar System Exploration, and Astrophysics. Goddard plays a leading role in NASA’s accomplishments by contributing compelling scientific knowledge to advance the Agency’s mission.