(Submitted February 08, 1998)
Approximately how much do supernovae expand when they blow up?
A supernova remnant can become very large, but depends on its age. There
are large bubbles of hot gas within our galaxy that extend for hundreds of
light years from older supernovae. The Crab Nebula, which is believed to
have been formed from a supernova in 1054, is currently expanding at
1450 km/s which, after a little hand waving math, makes it roughly five
light years in radius (assuming a constant expansion velocity, which is
not correct in the early phase of the supernova, but is roughly correct
over most of the 1,000 year age of this remnant). So had the Crab supernova
been at Alpha Centauri distance when it went off, the blast wave would be
coming at us or recently past us.
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