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The origin of the (lighter) elements The Late Stages of Stellar Evolution Supernova of 1604 (Kepler’s)

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Presentation on theme: "The origin of the (lighter) elements The Late Stages of Stellar Evolution Supernova of 1604 (Kepler’s)"— Presentation transcript:

1 The origin of the (lighter) elements The Late Stages of Stellar Evolution Supernova of 1604 (Kepler’s)

2 High-Mass Stars > 8 M Sun Low-Mass Stars < 2 M Sun Intermediate- Mass Stars Brown Dwarfs

3 Broken thermostat

4 ‘Helium flash’ Core of helium is supported by electron degeneracy pressure

5 Helium burning stars are temporarily stable.

6 After the Helium Flash

7 After He fusion stops in the core… Variable stars: RR Lyrae Cepheids


9 The Death of a Low-Mass Star: Planetary Nebula The Helix Nebula Remnants of stars with ~ 1 – a few M sun Radii: R ~ 0.2 - 3 light years Expanding at ~10 – 20 km/s ( Doppler shifts) Last < 10,000 years Have nothing to do with planets! 

10 The Formation of Planetary Nebulae The Ring Nebula in Lyra Two-stage process: Slow wind from a red giant blows away cool, outer layers of the star Fast wind from hot, inner layers of the star overtakes the slow wind and heats it => Planetary Nebula









19 The Cat Eye Nebula: Approx 3000 LY away Central star T = 80,000 K Spectral class O Mass ~ 1 M sun Radius ~ 0.65 R sun

20 The Cat Eye


22 White Dwarfs are supported by electron degeneracy pressure in a low-mass star, Fusion stops after He -->C and O Just cools off and fizzles out Siruis and its white dwraf companion, Sirius B

23 Summary: Evolution of a Sun-Like Star

24 Earth’s Fate Sun’s luminosity will rise to 1,000 times its current level—too hot for life on Earth

25 Earth’s Fate Sun’s radius will grow to near current radius of Earth’s orbit

26 High mass stars : CNO Cycle H fusion is faster because C, N and O act as catalysts Same net result: 4 H become 1 He. No total gain or loss of C, N, O

27 Life Stages of High-Mass Stars high-mass stars are similar to low-mass stars: –Hydrogen core fusion (main sequence) –Hydrogen shell burning (supergiant) –Helium core fusion (subgiant) They are also different.. –H-->He via CNO cycle not p-p chain –Core much hotter –fuse C, O into heavier elements –He core is not degenerate –no He flash! –Lose a lot of mass

28 High-mass stars make the elements necessary for life!

29 Big Bang made 90% H, 10% He – stars make everything else

30 Helium fusion can make only carbon in low-mass stars

31 Helium Capture occurs only in high-mass stars High core temperatures allow helium to fuse with heavier elements

32 Helium capture builds C into O, Ne, Mg, … Total # of P+N = Multiples of 4! Why?

33 Evidence for helium capture: Higher abundances of elements with even numbers of protons

34 Advanced Nuclear Burning Core temperatures in stars with >8M Sun allow fusion of elements up to iron


36 Si, S, Ca, Fe, etc. can only be made in high-mass stars

37 Multiple Shell Burning Advanced nuclear burning proceeds in a series of nested shells

38 Iron is “ash” of fusion: nuclear reactions involving iron do not release energy Iron-56 has lowest mass per nuclear particle Highest “binding energy” of all the elements Fusion releases energy only when the mass of the products < mass of the reactants


40 How does a high-mass star die? Iron builds up in core until degeneracy pressure can no longer resist gravity

41 Supernova Explosion Core degeneracy pressure cannot support degenerate core of > 1.4 M sun electrons forced into nucleus, combine with protons making neutrons, neutrinos and LOTS of energy!

42 Collapse only takes very short amount of time (~seconds) Supernova!

43 Energy and neutrons released in supernova explosion cause elements heavier than iron to form, including Au and U

44 Neutron Stars & Supernova Remnants Energy released by collapse of core drives outer layers into space The Crab Nebula is the remnant of the supernova seen in A.D. 1054

45 Supernova 1987A The first visible supernova in 400 years

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