The Death of a Star: Our Sun

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Iron: The Most Dangerous Element >> Here is the link to the full article

( Hey guys saw an episode that focused on this subject on TV not to long ago and they said that when the sun creates iron it will die then turn into a giant diamond. This diamond will explode scattering dust  of elements into the universe.)

Supernova: “After” & “Before”

Supernova 1987a was the most massive explosion observed from Earth in 400 years.
Supernova 1987a was the most massive explosion observed from Earth in 400 years.

The Death of Massive Stars

Wait, what about iron? This dangerous element does not form in ordinary stars like the Sun. However, massive stars have a truly cataclysmic ending.

These monsters have much more mass. Therefore, the force of gravity at the core is so strong that they do not stop with carbon and oxygen. The next stage is to fuse into neon, sulfur, magnesium, silicon, phosphorous, and then iron. However, there’s a problem with iron. It just so happens that the amount of energy needed to fuse elements into iron exceeds the amount of energy released by the fusion itself. What this means is that iron acts like a stellar vampire. Iron fusion absorbs energy instead of radiating it. The star starts consuming itself from the inside out. The heat and radiation emitted by fusion in the outer layers can no longer counteract the force of gravity, and the star collapses.

Bizarrely, iron can halt the collapse, but at a high price. Usually, the outer layers simply do not have enough mass to penetrate the dense iron-hard core, which is about the size of Earth. The implosion has nowhere to go. It reverses course and blows outward, instead! This is a supernova. The resulting shock waves are so powerful they can fuse atoms into elements heavier than iron. This is where all the other elements, like gold and copper and silver, come from, and it’s why they’re so rare. What’s left behind is a neutron star: a city-size mass of stuff as dense as “cram[ming] all of humanity into a volume the size of a sugar cube.” (Dr. M Coleman Miller, “Introduction to Neutron Stars“)

If the star’s mass is greater than five times that of our Sun, an even more terrifying thing happens: nothing can stop the implosion, and the star collapses into a black hole, from which no matter, energy, or even light can escape.

Either way, it’s the formation of iron which sounds the death knell of massive stars.

NOVA: An Introduction to Stellar Fusion (Narrated by astrophysicist DeGrasse Tyson)

 

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