Since ancient times, people have been interested in how a star dies. But many people started talking about it again after the James Webb telescope took a picture of two stars in the South Ring Nebula. One was dying, and the other was in orbit around it. Also, the scientists who looked at these pictures think that the gases and dust that can be seen are probably coming from five other stars nearby.
We can go back to talking about how a star dies now that we’ve seen this amazing picture. It’s thanks to the James Webb telescope’s advanced technology that we were able to see an image of a star that was about to die. The telescope’s pictures of Jupiter have been impressive, just like the pictures it took of faraway galaxies. In general, everything he’s taken stands out for the never-before-seen precision and quality of its images in difficult conditions.
To figure out how a star dies, we have to keep in mind that it can take up to a million years to die. After all, the lives of the heavenly bodies in space last for billions of years.
Once the process starts, the first thing we notice is that the star uses up all of its hydrogen fuel and then grows bigger, turning into a red giant that can be millions of kilometers across and as big as a whole planet. It stays alive by eating other parts of its chemical makeup, such as oxygen, carbon, and iron.
After this happens, which is called “shedding its outer layers,” the star gets smaller and becomes a very dense “white dwarf.” In fact, a piece of that white dwarf the size of a teaspoon would weigh 100 tons. This change from a red giant to a white dwarf happens when the above-mentioned elements that feed the red giant run out. At that point, the red giant becomes a white dwarf, a name that, according to the European Space Agency, describes stars that have burned all of their hydrogen fuel.
Then, over billions of years, this white dwarf cools down and disappears. In fact, this process is very interesting because it could back up some theories, like the idea that the universe will end in a “Big Crunch,” which would be the opposite of the “Big Bang” and cause all the stars to disappear through a giant collapse. After being squeezed, the white dwarf becomes invisible until it explodes, causing a shockwave that spreads throughout the universe and, depending on its properties, creates supernovae and novae.
Does this ring a bell? 💍
Webb’s first images showed 2 stars, a dying star and its orbiting companion, in the Southern Ring Nebula. Webb scientists now think more hidden companions helped shape the gas and dust here, potentially a total of 5 stars! More: https://t.co/ZJb27lru5L pic.twitter.com/w1I3DYxEdJ
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) December 8, 2022
Supernovae are the biggest explosions that can happen in the universe. There are two types: type 1 supernovae, which only happen when two stars share the same gravitational point, and type 2 supernovae, which happen when a star collapses under its own gravity and causes an explosion.
Novae, on the other hand, are the stars that are born after this event. In other words, when a star dies and explodes, new small stars can form that bring life back to the universe. Scientist Mario Arreola Santander, communications and electronics engineer and director of Science and Technology Dissemination of the Mexican Space Agency (AEM), says that this “gives us very beautiful images of how the expulsion of all the materials that made it go into space and form a cloud.”