Fate has something very different, and very dramatic, in store for stars which are some 5 or more times as massive as our Sun. After the outer layers of the star have swollen into a red supergiant (i.e., a very big red giant), the core begins to yield to gravity and starts to shrink.
As it shrinks, it grows hotter and denser, and a new series of nuclear reactions begin to occur, temporarily halting the collapse of the core. However, when the core becomes essentially just iron, it has nothing left to fuse (because of iron’s nuclear structure, it does not permit its atoms to fuse into heavier elements) and fusion ceases. In less than a second, the star begins the final phase of its gravitational collapse.
The core temperature rises to over 100 billion degrees as the iron atoms are crushed together. The repulsive force between the nuclei overcomes the force of gravity, and the core recoils out from the heart of the star in an explosive shock wave. As the shock encounters material in the star’s outer layers, the material is heated, fusing to form new elements and radioactive isotopes.
In one of the most spectacular events in the Universe, the shock propels the material away from the star in a tremendous explosion called a supernova. The material spews off into interstellar space — perhaps to collide with other cosmic debris and form new stars, perhaps to form planets and moons, perhaps to act as the seeds for an infinite variety of living things.