All Good Things Must Come To An End, Even Stars

The saying goes, all good things must come to an end and stars, unfortunately, are one of them. In “Keck Observatory captures rare high-resolution images of exploded star“, the astronomers were able to capture footage of a Type 1-A Supernova. From what we learned in class and as the article states, supernovas are “are only visible for a short time, spotting them can be difficult”. After reading this article, it really amazes me with what kind of advanced technology we have to be able to capture phenomenon like supernovas. Also, I’m impressed with myself because by just knowing that the star concluded with a Type 1-A Supernova, by knowing basic star properties I already know so much about the star.

What happens to a star as it begins to die all depends on one factor, its mass. Low-mass stars (< 8Ms), like most stars on the Main Sequence, will follow the path of becoming red giants and eventually rid of its outer layers to produce a planetary nebula. Following, the planetary nebula will leave behind a white dwarf. According to the lecture tutorial, Stellar Evolution, we learn that if the white dwarf has a nearby binary companion, it could accrete material from it. After it collects enough material it goes through a controlled fusion reaction where eventually it could either remain unchanged or explode into a Type 1-A Supernova, just like iPTF16geu Type Ia supernova.


This diagram shows the basic outline of the different types of endings for stars. Low-mass stars follow the top path meanwhile high-mass stars follow the bottom one.


By knowing the end result of the star, we could trace back its steps and figure that the star of iPTF16geu Type Ia supernova was originally a low-mass star. During research, there are many times where scientists will have to work backward since time in space isn’t all the same. It’s important to know what happens to stars after they die because stars affect everything, including us. Not just taking into account of our own star, the Sun’s, life cycle, but also, star formations are usually caused by supernovas.

Looking back, I remember the time when I got scared after reading a solar system book in elementary school because I read about how the Sun was eventually going to die. It’s a little funny because even though it won’t happen for five billion years or so, I was terrified. Through this conceptual objective, I’ve recognized the significance of star formation, evolution, and death. It’s crucial to understand stars and their existence because their existence affects our existence. Stars are the reason why people become so intrigued about astronomy and it’s really sad to say that although they are great during their lifetime, eventually they do come to an end.


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