The Science of Existence (16-4) Hypernovae


Hypernovae, which are supernovae at least 140–200 solar masses, are even more explosive than their more petite sisters – leaving absolutely nothing behind as core material. Part of hypernova explosive power stems from production of matter-antimatter particle pairs, which are particularly antagonistic toward each other in such a high-energy setting.

These hypernovae are rare, but particularly potent in seeding the next generation of cosmic matter consumers and doing so with the most energetic explosion possible.

If matter becomes hot enough it can emit photons so energetic that they can collide and convert into other particles, notably pair production of an electron and a positron, the electron’s antiparticle. Pair production results in matter at much lower pressure. This deadweight intensifies the collapse of a hypernova, causing a runaway reaction that results in an energy release that exceeds the star’s entire gravitational energy. The inevitable explosion obliterates the hypernova, leaving behind only an expanding cloud of the elemental debris synthesized from the terminal fury.