The largest stars die in explosions more powerful than anyone thought possible—some triggered in part by the production of antimatter
Image: Highest-energy supernovae might look quite spectacular from a planet orbiting the exploding star, but any civilization would most likely be obliterated. Credit: Illustration by Ron Miller
In recent years several supernovae have turned out to be more powerful and long-lasting than any observed before.
Archival images showed that the stars that gave rise to some supernovae were about 100 times as massive as the sun: according to accepted theory, stars this big were not supposed to explode.
Some supernovae may have been thermonuclear explosions triggered by the creation of pairs of particles of matter and antimatter.
The first generation of stars in the universe, which created the materials that later formed planets, may have exploded through a similar mechanism.