Justin Pokrywka - Vocals
Loren & Mark – Guitars; Loren – Bass; Rob Ickes - Dobro
Running Time: 5:20
Tempo and Style: Slower, minor key with striking & powerful guitar. Features a powerful dobro instrumental.
Premise and Background: Based on National Geographic article by Stan Woosley, describing in great detail the life and death of supernovas.
It turns out that across the universe a supernova explodes approximately each second. Interestingly, someone dies about just as often.
According to the article, supernovas go through a life cycle of accelerating fusion reactions:
"Gravity is responsible for setting newborn stars aflame, by squeezing atoms of hydrogen in the star's core so tightly that they fuse to make helium. The fusion generates light and heat and also exerts pressure that allows the core to withstand the enormous weight of the star's outer layers.
But when the core consumes all of its hydrogen, gravity compresses it. The temperature of the shrinking core rises to about a hundred million degrees, hot enough for helium nuclei to fuse and make carbon. The new surge of energy keeps the core from collapsing much further.
For an isolated star no heavier than the sun, there is little more to the story. The star burns all of its helium and shrivels. It turns into a white dwarf about the size of Earth, aging and cooling indefinitely..
Stars with mass more than 8x the mass of the sun always lose their battle with gravity. With the crushing weight of the star's outer layers bearing down on its core, the fusion reactions don't stop at carbon. The star continues to cook lighter nuclei into progressively heavier elements, but each nuclear reaction runs its course faster. The transformation from carbon to oxygen takes 600 years, from oxygen to silicon 6 months, from silicon to iron a day. Once the star's core turns to solid iron—a sphere no bigger than Earth that weighs as much as the sun— its fate is sealed.
In less than a second, the star will explode. Iron marks the end of the road because unlike lighter elements, iron atoms consume rather than create energy when they fuse. Fusion can no longer provide the energy to support the star's outer layers, and the core simply implodes. Usually the result is a neutron star, a stellar cinder so dense a teaspoon would weigh more than a billion tons. In the most massive stars the collapse leaves only a voracious pit called a black hole.
At this point, Woosley believes—before the collapse somehow turns into an explosion—some supernovas unleash a blast of gamma rays."
Just before they explode, supernovas give off beams of gamma rays. The SWIFT Satellite, launched in 2004 searches the skies for Gamma Rays and then alerts Astronomers around the world where to focus their telescopes to watch a supernova explosion. Supernovas oscillate in the key of "F" just before they explode. Regarding the number of stars in the universe - the number is estimated in the range of 10^22 - 10^24:
In the song I call it "A Trillion Trillion" (which is 10^24).
Regarding human death rates - it's actually closer to 2 people every second - but remarkably close in frequency to super nova explosions.
Laurence Baer is a BMI songwriter. He owns exclusive rights to both the songwriting and publishing royalties of this song through L. Baer & Associates, LLC.