Imagine the Universe!

GRB destroying a star
Movie (8.9 MB)


A computer animation of a gamma-ray burst destroying a star. 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.

The core of the star has collapsed, without the star's outer part knowing. A black hole forms inside surrounded by a disk of accreting matter, and, within a few seconds, launched a jet of matter away from the black hole that ultimately made the gamma-ray burst.

Here we see the jet (white plume) breaking through the outer shell of the star, about nine seconds after its creation. The jet of matter, in conjunction with vigorous winds of newly forged radioactive nickel-56 blowing off the disk inside, shatters the star within seconds. This shattering represents the supernova event.

If words seem to be missing from the articles, please read this.

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
Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
Curator: J.D. Myers
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2014.
This page last updated: Thursday, 26-Jun-2003 15:09:58 EDT