Saturday, November 23, 2013

We are Starstuff? (Unfinished)

Anyone even remotely interested in astronomy has probably heard someone (perhaps Carl Sagan or Neil deGrasse Tyson) say: "We are star stuff." But what does that mean exactly?

To give a quick breakdown: "Supernovae" occur once a star consumes all of its hydrogen fuel for nuclear fusion, causing the core to contract into a neutron star or a stellar mass black hole. As this happens, the star violently chucks the remainder of its gas off into space in a brilliant explosion that seeds the interstellar medium with heavier elements. Prior to a massive star going supernova (this only occurs with stars that are much more massive than our sun), it would have fused lighter elements (such as hydrogen and helium) into heavier ones (up to and including iron,which is number 26 on the periodic table of elements). And as we all know, iron is in our blood. Hence, our bodies are literally made from the stuff of stars.

To learn all about this process, see:

This amazing image comes from:

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