su·​per·​no·​va | \ ˌsü-pər-ˈnō-və How to pronounce supernova (audio) \

Definition of supernova

1 : the explosion of a star in which the star may reach a maximum intrinsic luminosity one billion times that of the sun
2 : one that explodes into prominence or popularity also : superstar

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Did You Know?

A nova, despite its name, isn't actually a "new" star, but rather one that wasn't noticed until it exploded, when it may increase in brightness by a million times before returning to its previous state a few days later. A supernova is far larger; a star in its supernova state may emit a billion times as much light as previously. After a few weeks it begins to dim, until it eventually ceases to exist; it's often replaced by a black hole. (Though remains that were shot out into space may survive; those of a great supernova seen in A.D. 1054 are now known as the Crab Nebula.) All this may serve as a warning to those human stars whose fame explodes too rapidly; supernovas of this kind have sometimes vanished by the following year.

Examples of supernova in a Sentence

tragically, a shoulder injury cut short the pitching career of one of baseball's brightest supernovas
Recent Examples on the Web Then the magic expands outward like a supernova, washing out and transforming the entire town into a black and white, ever so much more manicured, version of itself. Erik Kain, Forbes, "‘WandaVision’ Episode 8 Review: A Powerful Journey Through Wanda’s Grief," 26 Feb. 2021 Beyoncé’s visual album Black Is King, which indeed arrived like a supernova of beauty, talent, and vision during a dark summer. Jill Newman, Town & Country, "How Jewelers Rose to the Occasion in 2021," 25 Jan. 2021 Such a revelation would carry significant implications for our understanding of supernova physics., "‘Unicorn’ Discovery Points to a New Population of Black Holes," 27 Jan. 2021 But the supernova on this night was true freshman tailback Bijan Robinson, who looked ready to rumble for an obscene amount of yards early on. Nick Moyle,, "Could Alamo Bowl win build momentum for Tom Herman and Texas?," 30 Dec. 2020 The former are the result of massive stars dying in a core-collapse supernova, while the latter's formation process remains something of a mystery. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Meet GW190521—a black-hole merger for the record books," 2 Sep. 2020 A decade ago, Chatroulette was an internet supernova, exploding in popularity before collapsing beneath a torrent of male nudity that repelled users. Kevin Randall, Wired, "Chatroulette Is On the Rise Again—With Help From AI," 26 Dec. 2020 This year was all about Betelgeuse, a red giant star in the Orion constellation thought to be on the brink of a supernova explosion. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "The year 2020 in space discoveries," 24 Dec. 2020 Astronomers have attempted to link the star to several rare celestial events — including a comet, a supernova and a conjunction. Sophie Lewis, CBS News, "Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other, forming the first visible "double planet" in 800 years," 21 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'supernova.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of supernova

1932, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for supernova

New Latin

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Time Traveler for supernova Time Traveler

The first known use of supernova was in 1932

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Statistics for supernova

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Supernova.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of supernova

astronomy : the explosion of a star that causes the star to become extremely bright

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Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for supernova Encyclopedia article about supernova

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