A Hungry Black Hole has no Remorse

In recent space news, astronomers found a black hole within a globular cluster tearing apart a white dwarf. This gruesome action was completed without remorse for this already dead star. As discussed in a later lecture, white dwarfs are the results of low mass stars, much like our own, that burn up all their energy from nuclear fusion and later eject their outer layers and leave behind this small, compact star in its place. This article had me thinking about the process in which a star must maintain equilibrium before its death, whether it be by virtue of running out of fuel or gravity pulling it into a black hole.

artwork depicting 47 Tuc X9

In class we discussed the topic about how stars live and maintain energy. This process is referred to as nuclear fusion. When a star is created from a solar nebula, gravity pulls the cloud of gas in, shrinking its size, causing temperatures to rise, and upon building up to a dense core, gravity created a protostar. Once a protostar is created, gravitational contraction continues until a star can maintain nuclear fusion. The process of nuclear fusion is the action in which hydrogen atoms bind to each other in order to maintain energy. In order for a star to survive, it must maintain equilibrium between creating energy in its core and releasing it into space, also referred to as energy balance. Without this, the balance between pressure and gravity will not remain steady and will cause the star to collapse on itself. Thus, stars continuously bind hydrogen atoms, making new elements and releasing energy, while gravitational equilibrium monitors the change in temperature and causes the increase or decrease of nuclear fusion.

When reflecting upon star life and deaths, I see them as a balancing act that eventually tips a scale and causes an end. For example, the force of the black hole pulling in this white dwarf is much stronger than the force keeping the star in balance, but unlike actual death on this planet, the stars particles have a potential of being recycled and becoming something new. The way things “die” in space is not as much gruesome as the void makes it out to be.  This idea gives me hope for another life I guess, not to become all spiritual but life is just an overall interesting topic to talk about with people. we all want to know. Is recycled life a possibility? In our lifetime, I guess we’ll never know.

Source: Bad Astronomy


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