Imagine the Universe!

GRB/supernova viewed from a distance
Movie (3.1 MB)


A computer animation of a gamma-ray burst / supernova viewed from a distance.

This blue Wolf-Rayet star -- containing about 10 solar masses worth of helium, oxygen and heavier elements -- has depleted its nuclear fuel. This has triggered a Type Ic supernova / gamma-ray burst event.

Here we see a blinding flash of light as the shell of the star explodes. Over the course of many years, a supernova remnant emerges (as represented by the fiery reddish cloud of gas surrounding the newly formed central black hole or neutron star). A shock wave (represented by an egg-shaped shell) is created by the expanding gases.

Scientists say the gamma-ray burst detected on March 29, 2003, was associated with a hypernova, which is more energetic and expands more rapidly than a supernova does.

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index