Like many of you I often wake up at night worrying about our Sun going supernova and in the process wiping out all intelligent life on earth, as well as most professional football players. Well, you can imagine my relief when this report came out:
Even so, explaining supernovae is still a major challenge for astrophysicists. Computer simulations have had trouble reproducing the explosions, let alone their detailed properties. It is reassuringly hard to get stars to explode. They regulate themselves, remaining very stable for millions or billions of years. Even dead or dying stars have mechanisms causing them to peter out rather than blowing up. Figuring out how these mechanisms are overcome has taken multidimensional simulations that push computers to, and beyond, their limits. Only very recently has the situation improved. [More]
A supernova is truly "going out in a blaze of glory". They are spectacular astronomical sights as well, if you have a small telescope or a giant one in space.
Great - now I'm concerned about flesh-eating bacteria...