Star Light, Star Bright...What Are Stars? Essay

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Elements are often referred to as the building blocks of matter, combining to create not only life but everything surrounding it. However, these elements are not created on their own. They are forged deep within the cores of massive balls of gas dispersed throughout the universe and blasted through the vastness of space in their immense, self destructive explosions. Stars, through their violent birth to their even more violent death, manufacture the elements necessary for life. These giant balls of superheated gas begin their lives as nebulas, slowly evolving into the magnificent lights we see burning in the night sky and eventually dying by gravity, the same force that helped create them, scattering the plethora of elements they created…show more content…
The longevity of a star’s life depends highly on its mass. Bigger stars burn through hydrogen more quickly, using up their fuel in a shorter amount of time and smaller stars burn through their fuel more more slowly, lasting longer, and therefore surviving for sometimes trillions of years. After the core runs out of hydrogen to burn, the fusion inside this “gigantic hydrogen bomb” slows down and begins to move to the outer layers of the star, heating up the surface, causing the star to expand, creating a red giant. During this time, the unstable, collapsing core heats up and begins fusing the helium atoms into carbon and carbon into oxygen, continuing the process and producing heavier elements and releasing more energy.After the core runs out of this fuel, there is no energy to fight against gravity and it collapses into a dense white dwarf, cooling over billions of years and eventually falling apart. Larger stars, however, undergo a different demise. These stars become massive red giants referred to as supergiants, producing carbon until “carbon builds up so much that their core collapses under the weight” (DK). The extreme heat produced by the allows supergiants to continue the fusion process with heavier elements, such as magnesium, sulfur, and silicon until they produce iron, an element that is lethal to the biggest of stars.
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