General Question

talljasperman's avatar

What is the difference between a nova and a super nova?

Asked by talljasperman (21734points) June 8th, 2014

Just wondering.

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3 Answers

Seek's avatar

A nova is a nuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star caused by accumulation of matter from nearby stars (mostly hydrogen). A single white dwarf can have several novae throughout its life.

During a supernova, enough material collects to make the star itself go kaboom. A supernova explosion can outshine an entire galaxy for a short time and build higher-mass elements, and birth new stars.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
stanleybmanly's avatar

The matter falling on the white dwarf is usually from a close orbiting companion star still on the main sequence, which is why the nova can reoccur. It is the mass of a star which will determine whether or not it will go super nova.

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