Dr. Jim Daly narrates the evolution of a high mass star, describing heavy element nucleosynthesis and how such a star will ultimately end it’s life in a spectacular fashion as a Type-II Core Collapse Supernova.
In this video, the evolution of a 15 solar-mass star is depicted from its “0-age” or the point on it’s evolutionary timeline when it finally matures and stabilizes to its terminal end as a Type-II Core Collapse Supernova.
Having consumed its compliment of hydrogen, the core of a high-mass star goes through internal evolutionary changes, using the products of previous nuclear “burning” steps as the fuel for the next steps in a series of core “shell-burning” cycles. Ultimately, the terminal end to the star comes with a 24-hour silicon-burning cycle that produces nickel and iron in the inner-core.
Unable to use the nickel and iron to produce energy, the core implodes between 10 and 30% the speed of light, rebounds and obliterates the star in a spectacular Type II Core-Collapse supernova. Depending on the star’s original mass, a Neutron Star or Black Hole will remain.
An example of such a Type-II Core Collapse supernova is the famous “Crab Nebula” in Taurus, first witnessed by Chinese astronomers in 1054. Two famous examples of such stars are Betelgeuse and Antares, both red supergiant stars.
Imagination is more important than knowledge
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