Life of a Star
The life of a star research paper illustrates that cosmic matter is on an eternal cycle of birth, death and regeneration, as the gasses from which stars are formed are ejected by those very stars when they die. The heavy carbon at their cores forms the material for new planets or stars, and even lifeforms on this or other planets.
An object which dies in one incarnation will go on to become another entity; thus a star can become a planetary nebula, explode dramatically as a supernova, or fade as a white dwarf, which is the predicted fate of our own sun, some 5 billion years from now.
As was known prior to Hubble Space Telescope, stars are formed when a dusty cloud of hydrogen gas collapses under the force of gravity, triggering nuclear fusion. Young stars heat the gas around them with UV radiation, and the birth cloud will glow, thus transformed into a nebula.Whilst the birth process had already been seen, it was not fully understood and HST’s observation of fledgling stars brought gratifying results –“for the first time we are seeing a newborn star close up..and probing the inner workings”.
Although it could not conclusively explain the process of star birth, HST was able, charting primarily star clusters of older stars within our own galaxy to provide vivid and graphic evidence that it can be both a violent and an erratic process.