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From Big Bang to

Jay Kalinani
MSc Physics

Why did I take up


Stellar Evolution

Stage 1

How Stars Form : Protostars

A protostar is a large
mass that forms by
contraction of the
gas of a giant
molecular cloud in
the interstellar
Huge clouds of gas
(hydrogen) in which
stars are made.
As the clouds
collapse stars are
born in them

1st Step:
Stars form from nebulas
Regions of concentrated dust and gas

Gas and dust begin to collide, contract and heat up

All due to gravity

2nd Step:
As nebula contracts, a small star is formed
Called a protostar

Eventually, the protostar will begin nuclear fusion

Hydrogen protons attract to each other
Strong nuclear force
Fusion begins

Necessary for stars to survive

Protostars or Young Stellar

Objects (YSO)
Class 0 (T <70K) Emits in microwave range
because of opaque surrounding cloud
Class I (T = 70-650K) Emits in infrared. Star still
invisible but can detect warm material around it.
Class II (T = 650-2880K) T Tauri stars. Massive
expulsion of material
Class III(T > 2880K) Pre-Main Sequence stars

Stage 2
Main sequence star

The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

Main Sequence Stars

3rd Step:
Star joins the main sequence
90% of stars spend life here
Nuclear fusion = Hydrogen into Helium
Mass of star determines location on main sequence

Brown Dwarf (L, T, Y)

Red Dwarf (M)
Normal Star (O, B, A, F, G, K)

Main Sequence Star

E.g. Our sun
Sequence lasts for
about 10000
million years
Our sun is about
half way through
its main sequence

Super-Massive Stars
Stars beyond a certain limit radiate so
much that they expel their outer layers
W stars (Wolf-Rayet stars) are an example
Upper limit about 100 solar masses
More massive stars can form by merger
but dont last long (10000 years)


How Stars Die

Main Sequence Stars Brighten With Age

The More Massive a Star, the Faster it Uses


Giant Phase

White Dwarf


Neutron Star - Pulsar

Black Hole

Leaving the Main

Helium accumulates in core of star
Fusion shuts down
Star begins to contract under gravity
Core becomes denser and hotter
Nuclear fusion resumes around helium core
Outer layers puff up enormously but cool down
Star becomes redder and larger (Red Giant)

a good

Stage 3
Red Giant

Red Giant

As the sun runs out of hydrogen the outer

layers of the sun will become cooler
They will also expand massively.
The Earth (along with Mercury, Venus and
Mars) will be swallowed up.

Later Lives of Giants

Inert helium core begins to fuse helium to carbon
and oxygen
Contraction of core stops
Outer envelope contracts and heats up
Red Giant becomes Yellow Giant
Helium core runs out of fuel
Helium fusion shell on outside of core, hydrogen
fusion above
Star loops between red and yellow on H-R plot

Making the Elements

Heavy nuclei: Energy from Fission
Light Nuclei: Energy from Fusion
Both end at Iron: Most stable nucleus
Stars can generate H-Fe through Fusion
How do we get beyond Fe?
Two processes
S-Process (Slow) in Red Giants
R-Process (Rapid!) in Supernovae

Dead Stars leave corpses

White dwarfs
remnant core of low mass star
supported by electron degeneracy pressure
Neutron stars
remnant core of high mass star
supported by neutron degeneracy pressure
Black Holes
remnant of some massive stars
gravitys ultimate victory

Exploding Stars
White dwarf attracts matter from neighboring star
Nuclear fusion resumes on surface of star
Many novae repeat at decade or longer intervals

Type I Supernova
White dwarf attracts matter from neighboring star
White dwarf core resumes fusion

Type II Supernova
Collapse of massive single star

Stage 4
White Dwarf

White Dwarf
Gravity will cause the red giant to collapse
It still has the same mass as the original sun!
Sirius B nearest known white dwarf at 8.6 ly
Usually composed of Carbon & Oxygen
No longer undergoes fusion supported by
electron degeneracy pressure
Very hot when formed gradually radiates its
energy & cools down

Stage 3
(for a big star)
Red Supergiant

Stage 4
(for a big star)

The largest and most
powerful explosions in
the universe
The red supergiants
literally blow themselves
Luminous burst of
radiation expelling most
of the star material at
velocities up to 30,000
km/s, driving a

Remains of SN 1054 (Crab Nebula)

Stage 5
(for a big star)
Neutron Star

Neutron Stars
A compact star formed by gravitational collapse of a
massive star after a super nova
Densest and smallest stars known to exist
Mostly, entirely made up of neutrons
Mass of sun but diameter of a few kms
Rotate at high speed
Rotation speeds up to 140,000 times that of sun
28 days > 17 seconds

Very hot and supported by quantum degeneracy


Stage 5
(for a big star)
Black hole

Black holes
After the

supernova a huge
mass is left behind
A black hole is an
object whose
gravity is so
powerful that not
even light can
escape it
Event horizon
well-defined edge
of the blackhole

Black Holes
Singularity: gravity but no size
Event horizon (Schwarzschild radius): no
information can escape
Detectable from infalling matter, which
emits X-rays
Quantum (atom-sized) black holes may
Cores of galaxies have supermassive black