Can a Super Nova wipe out a planet?

Yes, if the planet is in orbit around the star that becomes a supernova, and is reasonably close to it. In that case the planet could be vaporized by the intense radiation of the supernova, and its remnants blown into interstellar space by the high-speed high-energy gases cast off the star as it blew itself to bits.

Planets further out, particularly if very large ones like the Jovian planets, would probably survive as physical objects, but would be lost in interstellar space if the supernova explosion reduced the mass of the star to less than half its original mass (in such a case, the star's reduced gravity would not be strong enough to hold them in orbit). But even if such planets survived, any life forms on them would be wiped out by the intense radiation of the supernova. In fact, even planets around nearby stars might have most or all their lifeforms wiped out by that radiation. (Though the planets themselves would not be significantly affected.)


All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Courtney Seligman


I can answer almost any question about astronomy and related sciences, such as physics and geology. I will not answer questions about astrology and similar pseudo-scientific rubbish.


I have been a professor of astronomy for over 40 years, and am working on an online text/encyclopedia of astronomy, and an online catalog of NGC/IC objects.

Astronomical Journal, Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific (too long ago to be really relevant, but you could search for Courtney Seligman on Google Scholar)

I received a BA in astronomy and physics and a MA in astronomy, both from UCLA. I was working on my doctoral dissertation when I started teaching, and discovered that I preferred teaching to research.

Awards and Honors
(too long ago to be relevant, but Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi still keep trying to get me to become a paying member)

©2016 All rights reserved.