We asked our science editor to review aespa’s song ‘Supernova’ from Mashable

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Last week, Korean girl group aespa dropped a stellar new single, “Supernova,” that likened their fizzling intensity to that of an exploding star. As the music video for the tune racked up millions of views, NASA’s Webb Telescope jumped in to share an image of the youngest known remnant of a real-life supernova — the 340-year-old Cassiopeia A — on X.

NASA loves using pop music to teach the chronically online about the wonders of our universe (the X account recently also referenced “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse and Sabrina Carpenter’s “Espresso”). Still, the organization’s interest in aespa made us wonder: Just how scientifically accurate are the lyrics of “Supernova”? We asked Mashable’s Science Editor Mark Kaufman to weigh in on the pop song, using English translations of the song’s original Korean lyrics.

He began by giving the girls their props. “It’s wonderful that pop superstars are showing supernovae mad respect,” he wrote. “After all, a supernova — the blast created by the collapse of a supermassive star — is one of the biggest known explosions in the universe.” That means the song’s opening line, “I’m like some kind of supernova, watch out,” and the lyrics, “Bring the light of a dying star,” are pretty accurate.

What about the lyrics that ask, “Where did we come from?” or the ones that state, “Every one of my cells are created from stars” and “Right now it’s inside me, supernova.”

These, Kaufman says, are totally accurate, too. “[Supernovae] explosions make life possible. As aespa correctly notes, we are all the products of these grand cosmic events. The most massive stars cook up vital elements, like the iron in your blood, in their cores.” (The lyrics also mention these cores: “Have some fun with the core of light.”) So when a supernova explodes, they “fling these materials throughout galaxies,” says Kaufman. “The explosions themselves forge even heavier elements.”


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NASA’s X post about Cassiopeia A supports Kaufman, explaining that “Supernovae…are crucial for life as we know it. They spread elements like the calcium in our bones and the iron in our blood across space, seeding new generations of stars and planets.”

So when aespa sings, “Event’s imminent, that tick, tick bomb,” they’re describing the kind of explosions that are common in our universe and crucial to it. Stars explode ad infinitum — the Department of Energy estimates that one blows up “somewhere in the universe” every 10 seconds – but most of us will never be lucky enough to see one of these explosions with our own eyes. “Giant stars that we can see in the night sky will go supernova one day,” says Kaufman, but it won’t be in our lifetime. “Perhaps in 100,000 years or so, the bright red star Betelgeuse will explode and, for around 100 days, will transform into the brightest star in the sky — so bright that it’ll be visible during the day! It’ll be wild. Or as aespa succinctly characterizes it: ‘Blowin’ up crazy.’”

If elements of supernovae live within every one of us, then the lyrics “meeting you inside infinity…watch this universe I’ve brought out” are also right on the mark. We may be a minor blip in an endless expanse of infinity, but we make meaning out of our small place in the universe every day by “bringing out” personal universes of our own.

The post We asked our science editor to review aespa’s song ‘Supernova’ from Mashable appeared first on Tom Bettenhausen’s.

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