Explaining the Stages of a Supernova Explosion

The cleverly insightful animated video series Kurzgesagt offers an informative lesson about the extreme danger of supernova explosions, particularly how one would affect Earth.

Supernovae are the most powerful explosions in the universe, unleashing enough energy to outshine galaxies. We have no real metaphor for their power – if the sun were to magically go supernova, it would feel like you were being hit by the energy of a nuclear explosion every second. For weeks.

They methodically go through each stage of the process, explaining the conditions of a supernova and how it would affect the surrounding universe.

A supernova is more like a volcanic  eruption followed by a tsunami. At first   there is a colorful ball of hot, expanding gas,  creating a spectacular cloud that will shine for   about a month – but then it doesn’t stop. Hot  and dangerous gas rushes outward at speeds of   10,000 km/s through the near vacuum of space,  sweeping up the sparse gas of the galaxy.   This wall of gas expands for tens of thousands  of years and will eventually span up to dozens   of light-years until it finally cools off, and  disperses its substance back into the galaxy.  So what if this star tsunami hits us? Well,  the damage depends on how far away it is.

As always, however, they do end on a somewhat positive note.

How worried do you need to be? So should you worry? No! Fortunately, there are only a handful of stars that may explode  within 1000 lightyears of earth and none are close  enough to be a serious threat. Even better, these  stars will probably not go supernova for many millions of years. So you are safe. But there’s no guarantee for the far future. As stars orbit the galaxy, our descendants may find themselves  dangerously close to a supernova – but by then a far more advanced and wiser humanity will hopefully be able to just move out of the way.