Stephen Colbert Learned All About Supernovas and Broke a Guinness World Record

Stephen Colbert Learned All About Supernovas and Broke a Guinness World Record
Source: YouTube
Source: YouTube

About 3.8 billion years ago, a star erupted in the most powerful supernova explosion we've ever seen. 

Theoretical physicist Brian Greene recently appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert to explain just how astonishingly powerful this supernova explosion was — and beat a Guinness World Record in the process. 

How a supernova works: Stars run on nuclear fusion, but eventually they run out of fuel. A supernova happens when a star reaches the end of its life and it doesn't have any more material left to power the nuclear fusion happening in its core. 

When the fuel runs out, the star collapses in on itself and then rebounds in a powerful explosion.

It's hard to imagine how powerful this is, so Greene and Colbert had a handy demonstration. It's called a Galilean cannon. The large ball at the bottom represents the star's core, while the smallest ball represents the star's surface. 

Source: YouTube

So when a star explodes, a shockwave ripples through the different layers and ejects the last layer in a powerful explosion:

Source: YouTube

This was the tallest Galilean cannon ever demonstrated, so Greene is now the proud holder of a Guinness World Record.

Source: YouTube

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

MORE FROM

Wildfires in Arizona and Utah force thousands from their homes

Nearly 7,000 have been displaced between the two states.

Iraqi forces capture mosque where ISIS declared caliphate 3 years ago

Iraqi forces consider this a huge symbolic victory.

Angela Merkel sharply criticizes Donald Trump on climate change without ever mentioning his name

"Whoever thinks that the problems of this world can be solved by protectionism and isolation lives under a huge misconception," Merkel said.

Top Pope aide charged with sexual assault vows to fight his "relentless character assassination"

Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to be ensnared in the church's sexual abuse scandal.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Sterling family lawsuit, Low approval for GOP health care, Trump hotel sued

The important stories to get you caught up for Thursday.

CNN's Van Jones allegedly says the Trump Russia stories are "a big nothing burger"

He's the second CNN insider this week to apparently denounce the network's Russia coverage.

Wildfires in Arizona and Utah force thousands from their homes

Nearly 7,000 have been displaced between the two states.

Iraqi forces capture mosque where ISIS declared caliphate 3 years ago

Iraqi forces consider this a huge symbolic victory.

Angela Merkel sharply criticizes Donald Trump on climate change without ever mentioning his name

"Whoever thinks that the problems of this world can be solved by protectionism and isolation lives under a huge misconception," Merkel said.

Top Pope aide charged with sexual assault vows to fight his "relentless character assassination"

Pell is the highest-ranking Catholic Church official to be ensnared in the church's sexual abuse scandal.

'Hot Mic' podcast: Sterling family lawsuit, Low approval for GOP health care, Trump hotel sued

The important stories to get you caught up for Thursday.

CNN's Van Jones allegedly says the Trump Russia stories are "a big nothing burger"

He's the second CNN insider this week to apparently denounce the network's Russia coverage.