Stars, like all other things, are created and destroyed. Stars are born from a cloud of dust. As the cloud grows, it starts heating up. Eventually, the cloud’s gravity is so great that it brings all of the dust into one object, creating a star. A star creates light and heat when hydrogen atoms are ripped apart and fused back together to form helium. This process, called nuclear fusion, creates immense amounts of light and heat which then travels outward into space. While this is happening, gravity is pushing down on the star, trying to keep everything in. The only thing preventing gravity from crushing the star is the newly-created energy trying to escape. This creates a delicate balance that-if tampered with-could mean the end for the star.
For most stars, the end comes when the fuel (hydrogen) runs out and there is no more energy pushing out on the star. Depending on what type of star it is, this could mean any number of things. For a star the size of our sun, it will expand into a red giant, then cool back down into a white or black dwarf. Large stars, much larger than our own, have much more dramatic deaths. Usually, large stars collapse under their own gravity. This tiny, super dense mass instantaneously heats up to over ten billion degrees and explodes, creating a supernova. The supernova releases a shockwave that can trigger star formation in nearby dust clouds. The remnants of the star can then turn into a neutron star or a black hole. Although supernovae are only easily observable about once every 50 years, they still intrigue scientists to this day.
By: Ryan Roco