Evolution of Massive Stars

Evolution of Massive Stars

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Credit: MARK GARLICK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: This illustration shows the life of a blue star starting from the main sequence (the hydrogen-burning phase, 1). Once the core hydrogen is depleted, the star swells into a red supergiant - much cooler yet vastly brighter than its blue alter-ego because of its greater surface area. Red supergiants have been measured with diameters up to 2000 times that of the Sun (not to scale, 2). Once the nuclear fuel in the core of a red giant is consumed, the star's core contracts under gravity very quickly, within seconds, while the outermost layers are blasted away in a vast explosion called a supernova (3). This forms a nebula known as a supernova remnant (4). Only the core remains. If this is less than around three times the mass of the Sun, it will settle down into a neutron star (5a); otherwise the core collapses indefinitely and forms a black hole (5b)

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Keywords: art, artwork, astronomy, astrophysics, black hole, blue giant, blue star, death, evolution, explosion, illustration, neutron star, nucleosynthesis, pulsations, red supergiant, remnant, stars, supernova

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