Type II Supernovae

Figure 1: The most well-known Type II supernovae, SN1987a
(left: post-supernova, right pre-supernova)
Credit: David Malin, Anglo-Australian Observatory 

Massive stars (those greater than 10 times the mass of our Sun) use up their nuclear fuel much quicker than lower mass stars and are therefore live shorter lives. In terms of the Universe, this is a relatively quick process (of the order of a few million years) and so the stars that result in Type II supernovae are said to “live fast, die young” (see Figure 1).

Massive stars (and they might even be as massive 200 solar masses) that explode are sometimes referred to as core-collapse supernovae. Even within the broad classification of Type II supernovae, astronomers divide these into different sub-types, including Type II-L, II-P, II-b and II-n. The L and P types refer to the shape of the light-curve and how it fades (P stands for 'plateau', L for 'linear'). b and n represent spectral features involving the hydrogen lines (b is 'broad', n is 'narrow').

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