Difference between Nova and Supernova

Key Differences: The sudden brightening of the star is known as a nova, whereas, an excessive brightening of the star that signals the start of its end is known as a supernova.

If one is asked what is nova and supernova? He will describe that they are stars. In the actual sense, they are not stars but are referred to as the sudden brightness in the stars. A nova is formed by the sudden brightness of a star, and when there is an increased brightness in the star that signals the start of its end, it is known as a supernova.

A nova basically is a fusion reaction of a white dwarf star, and is usually a small explosion. The word nova was derived from the Latin word, meaning “all new stars”. A nova is a nuclear fusion on the surface that brightens the star for a while. The gas is heated as it is compressed, and the hydrogen may go up in flames in nuclear reactions that brighten the surface and blow excess gas outward. This type of explosion is called a nova.

A supernova is brighter than a nova. Supernova, in a simple sentence, is the last stage of the life of a star. It is basically a procedure when a star is completely destroyed because it is not able to sustain its gravity anymore. When a supernova goes up in flames a black hole is created.

Modern astronomer, UW-Madison Space Place Director Jim Lattis said that ‘there are different processes that lead to these explosions, but the upshot is that the star is ripped apart and becomes billions of times brighter than it was before.’ It has been observed from Earth that sometimes a nearly unnoticeable star becomes one of the brightest objects in the sky. They are the supernovas.

Comparison between Nova and Supernova:






A star that suddenly becomes thousands of times brighter and then gradually fades to its original intensity.

The explosion of a star, possibly caused by gravitational collapse, during which the star's luminosity increases by as much as 20 magnitudes and most of the star's mass, is blown away at very high velocity, sometimes leaving behind an extremely dense core.

Plural form




The result is an extremely bright outburst of light, known as a nova.

  • It was already predicted that a black hole will be created by a supernova.
  • The outcome after the first supernova is still uncertain.

Image courtesy: nasa.gov, npr.org

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