Life in this universe begins and ends with supernovae. In a spectacular eruption powerful enough to outshine a galaxy, a star is killed — and new elements are forged. The shock wave from the star’s death throes can cause nearby clouds of gas to collapse, triggering the birth of new suns. The ashes of the exploded star spread out into the dark void of space, filling it with ingredients for future stars and planets. Supernovae are creative catastrophes.
This image made by the Hubble Space Telescope shows the tattered remains of a supernova explosion known as Cassiopeia A.