Difference between Nova and Supernova

Nova vs. Supernova

What is Difference between Nova and Supernova? If they ask you, what are the new and supernovae? Sure you answer that they are stars, but although they certainly have relation with the stars; the truth is that they are explosions of the same. They are very interesting phenomena, especially for Astronomy. Stellar bursts can be of a greater or lesser degree, and depending on this we determine whether it is a nova or a supernova. Here’s the difference between Nova and Supernova.

Difference between Nova and Supernova


A nova is basically a reaction that occurs between a white dwarf star and a red giant or evolved star. The gas that makes up the giant is attracted by the gravity of the dwarf and after a long period of time, a detonation occurs that results in a thermonuclear explosion.

The brightness generated by a nova can be so intense that even can be perceived with the naked eye. In these cases it can happen that stars are not completely destroyed, but several explosions can occur from the accumulation of new material.


Supernovae are about 100 times brighter than new ones. Contrary to the nova, when a supernova occurs; the stars are usually completely destroyed; because they are not able to withstand gravity. These explosions may be brighter than the galaxies in which they occur.

Supernovas are very rare, but if they occur they can be seen with the naked eye as well as the new ones.

There are different ways in which they can be produced, the first has to do with a giant star that stops producing hydrogen (which becomes its fuel) and as a result come a time when it cannot develop thermonuclear reactions and then explodes. The other form has to do with a white dwarf that takes mass from its companion, getting bigger and bigger; until it finally explodes.

Note: the process of forming a nova and a supernova can be quite similar.

Key differences between Nova and Supernova

  • Supernovae are much bigger and more intense explosions than new ones.
  • Supernovae can lead to black holes, but new ones do not.