Universe Guide

What is the difference between a Nova and Supernova?

To explain the difference, I first need to explain what each of them are.


The word Nova comes from the latin word meaning "New Star". However, a nova is not a new star. A Nova is a sudden increase in brightness of a star before returning back down to normality. Nova occurs in Binary / Symbiont Star Systems, also referred to as a vampire star .

In short, a Symbiont Star System is where two stars are close together and one star sucks hydrogen off the other one. The sucking star is normally a white dwarf star but can be something else. The sucked star is the larger of the two stars, normally an evolved red giant star. The white dwarf can attract some of the hydrogen from the larger star, when the hydrogen from the larger star comes into contact with the white dwarf, the white dwarf can increase in brightness. A star can go nova many times in its life.

An example of a Nova is RS Ophiuchi in the constellation of Ophiuchus.


A supernova marks the spectacular end of life for a star when it can no longer fuse any more and explodes. Like a nova, a star can go supernova more than once. When a star has gone supernova and comes back, it is known as a zombie star .

The Zombie Star IPTF14HLS in the constellation of Ursa Major has been observed as going supernova many times over a 1000 day period before eventually turning into a supernova remnant.

When a star enters the supernova stage, they can emit more energy than what it did during its lifetime.

The Crab nebular (M1) in the constellation of Taurus is an example of a supernova remnant.


Below is a list of differences then :-

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