Saturday, February 18, 2006

We are Starstuff!

Red Giant: Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!
Credit: A. Dupree (CfA), R. Gilliland (STScI), NASA

"Except for hydrogen, all the atoms that make each of us up -- the iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the carbon in our brains -- were manufactured in red giant stars thousands of light-years away in space and billions of years ago in time.
We are, as I like to say, starstuff."

Carl Sagan

Stars convert hydrogen to helium to produce light (and other radiation). As time progresses, the heavier helium sinks to the center of the star, with a shell of hydrogen around this helium center core. The hydrogen is depleted so it no longer generates enough energy and pressure to support the outer layers of the star. As the star collapses, the pressure and temperature rise until it is high enough for helium to fuse into carbon, i.e. helium burning begins. To radiate the energy produced by the helium burning, the star expands into a Red Giant.

The Sun will run out of fuel and become a red giant in about 4 billion years. What do you think will happen to the Earth then? Click
here for the answer.




MichaelBains said...

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!

I'm always vaguely dissapointed when that doesn't work. LOL!

Beautiful pic and interesting post though. I wonder how many intelligent species (if any!) will evolve from homo sapiens by that time. Ya never know about some things.

Kevin Parry said...

Thank you for your comments on my blog. To think that we are products of supernova! I always like pointing out to friends of mine that the gold in my wedding ring was created within exploding stars billions of years ago. My wife likes the fact that bits of old star dust (in a form of a ring) are a good symbol of the 'eternity' of love that two people share in marriage.


Memoirs of an ex-Christian

Rusko Elvenwood said...

When we think of things like this we are as Carl Sagan said, "...starstuff contemplating starstuff."

Stardust said...

Michael - I read your blog often and glad to see you here on mine. My kids used to do that Betelgeuse Betelegeuse Betelgeuse thing when they saw that movie in hopes something magical would happen. LOL! They used to give me the creeps and say "Candyman" three times in front of a mirror too!

It would be interesting to be able to look into the future and find out what happens to our species. Will we survive without killing each other or blowing up the planet that long?

Thanks for visiting and commenting on by blog Kevin. You have a great blog with some great things to say and I will be stopping by to read often. That is really cool about the wedding ring!

Rusko - starstuff looking at starstuff pretty much sums it up. I was fascinated when I first learned that humans, animals, planets, and stars are made of the same elements only in varying amounts. So in a way we do go on for all eternity only we return as particles in the vast universe. Pretty cool!