Every second a star dies in the universe. But these stellar beings do not disappear completely, the stars always leaving something behind.
Some stars explode into a supernova, turning into a black hole or neutron star, while most stars become a core of the star that once was. However, a new study reveals that these nuclei contribute more to life in the cosmos than previously thought.
The study, published in Nature Astronomy, suggests that “White Dwarf” stars are the primary source of carbon atoms in the Milky Way, a chemical known to be crucial for life. When stars like our own Sun run out of fuel, they turn into “white dwarfs.” In fact, 90% of all stars in the universe become white dwarf stars. These are, in fact, hot and dense stellar remains, with temperatures reaching 99,726.85 degrees Celsius. Over time, billions of years, these stars cool and eventually fade as they lose their outer matter. However, before they collapse, their remains are transported into space by winds blowing from their bodies.
This ash star contains chemical elements such as carbon
Carbon is the fourth most abundant chemical in the universe and is a key element in the formation of life, as it is the building block of most cells. All the carbon in the universe comes from the stars, so the expression that we are made of stars is not only poetic, but rather accurate. However, astronomers could not agree on the type of star that is responsible for scattering the largest carbon in the cosmos.
The scientists behind the new study used observations of “white dwarfs” in open star clusters, clusters of several thousand stars formed simultaneously in the Milky Way by the WM Keck Observatory in Hawaii in 2018. So they measured the relationship of initial-final star mass, which is the relationship between the masses of stars in their initial formation and their remaining masses.
Usually, the bigger the star, the smaller a “white dwarf” will be. However, the study found that the masses of stars[werelargerthanscientistshadanticipatedgiventheirinitialmasswhentheyfirstformed[eraumaimaridecâtanticipaserăoameniideștiințăavândînvederemasalorinițialăatuncicânds-auformatprimadată
“Our study interprets this danger in the initial-final mass relationship as the signature of carbon synthesis made by low-mass stars in the Milky Way,” said Paola Marigo, a researcher at the University of Padua, Italy and lead author of the study.
The team of scientists concluded that stars larger than two solar masses also contributed to the galactic enrichment of carbon. “We now know that carbon comes from stars with a birth mass of at least 1.5 solar masses,” Marigo said. The new study therefore suggests that carbon was essentially trapped in the raw material that formed the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.