The brilliant flash of an exploding star’s shockwave — what astronomers call the “shock breakout” — is illustrated in artist’s concept. Credit: NASA Ames, STScI/G. Bacon

The brilliant flash of an exploding star's shockwave -- what astronomers call the "shock breakout" -- is illustrated in artist's concept. Credit: NASA Ames, STScI/G. Bacon

The brilliant flash of an exploding star’s shockwave — what astronomers call the “shock breakout” — is illustrated in artist’s concept. Credit: NASA Ames, STScI/G. Bacon