What happens when a star dies 

Did you know in the constellation of the heavens consists a brilliant Dog-Star named Sirius which

lies as a faint dot of light, near it is a much smaller star known as the Pup.

Although it is much smaller, the material at its center is so dense that one matchboxful could weigh 50 tons.

Stars are thought to begin life by condensing from clouds of gas and dust, shrinking under the forces of their own gravity as their cores heat up.

Nuclear reactions begins and the hydrogen of which they are largely composed of is converted into helium, releasing energy and causing the stars to shine brilliantly in the heavens.

The Pup or Sirius B, was first spotted through a telescope by American Alvan Clark in 1862, although thirty years earlier the Prussian Astronomer Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel had noticed deviations in the orbit of Sirius which led him to believe that they were caused by another nearby star.

In fact, the Pup is not at all faint, except in relative terms. It is so outshone by its brilliant neighbour Sirius that a powerful telescope is needed to see it.

The two stars revolve once in 50 years around a common centre of gravity.

A Star Dies – The White Dwarf

While the Pup has much mass as our Earth’s Sun – enough to make Sirius wobble in its orbit – its diameter is only 24,000 miles apart, compared with 865,370 miles of our own sun, meaning the stars main mass can be crammed into 1/27,000th of the sun’s volume.

Yet in other comparability the star is 27,000 times more dense than the sun. It’s surface temperature is about 2000⁰C hotter than the sun, and each square inch of the surface radiates 3¾ more heat and energy than the sun, yet the Pup’s luminousity is only 1/360th that of the sun.

It was these facts that first led astronomers to realize that the pup was an abnormally small star and hence it was first recorded as a class of stars know as the White Dwarfs.

From continuous observation of the stars, Astronomers believed that these exceptionally dense stars were in their final stages of evolution and nearing extinction.

A Star Dies – The Red Giant Stage 

When the hydrogen supply of a dying star runs low, further nuclear reactions begin and the star swells , getting hotter and more dense at the core and cooler at the surface. – Talk about walking on the surface of the sun, right!

Well at this stage it’s known as a Red Giant. – “Talk about Superman’s fictional Krypton Red Sun”

When all the nuclear reserves are exhausted, if a star is big enough, it may explode as a Supernova while a smaller star may collapse in on itself under the force of its own gravity, becoming a White Dwarf.

A White Dwarf in simplistic terms is merely a dying star, with no means of re-heating and no future but extinction. The next stage is for it to collapse in on itself even further and condense into a Neutron Star, shrinking so much that it forms a dense mass weighing 20,000 million tons per cubic inch.

Our Star Dies – The Earth’s Sun

Our sun which is classified as a Yellow Dwarf star keeps a constant nuclear reaction of 4 million mass tons of energy lost per second. Yet the sun is so huge it’s not expected to turn to a red giant in another 5000 million years.

Only God knows the maximum obliteration of the entire planet when our star dies and if humans would live long enough not to be extinct in that far future.

What do you think?


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