Stellar Legacy Of The First Stars

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Stellar Legacy Of The First Stars

When we look up at our sky on a clear night, we see a canvas of incredible blackness that is sprinkled with the distant fires of countless dazzling stars. How did these fiery stars come into being–and where did they come from? The first stars to shatter the primeval darkness of the ancient Universe were mysterious objects that were responsible for our very existence–we would not be here if the first stars had not forged literally all of the atomic elements heavier than helium in their searing-hot, fiery hearts. The iron in our blood, the calcium in our bones, the oxygen we breathe, the water that we drink, the sand beneath our feat, and the carbon that is the basis of life on Earth, were all created by stars–that shot their batches of freshly forged, heavy, life-sustaining elements screaming out into space when they “died,” after having burned up their necessary hydrogen fuel. In May 2019, astronomers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, announced their new findings that, instead of inflating into spheres, as scientists once thought, ancient asymmetric supernova blasts may be responsible for seeding bright new baby stars that made life possible on Earth, and wherever else life may exist in the Cosmos.

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Several hundred million years after the Big Bang birth of the Universe, that is thought to have occurred about 13.8 billion years ago, the very first generation of stars ignited, lighting up the Universe in the form of gigantic glaring globs of hydrogen and and helium gas. Within the hot cores of these first primeval stars, extreme thermonuclear reactions forged the first batch of heavier elements, including carbon, iron, and zinc.

It has been proposed that the first stars were probably giant fireballs that lived fast and died young. The bigger the star; the shorter its life. Massive stars burn their fuel faster than their smaller stellar siblings because they are much hotter. Hence, they live for only millions of years, while their less hefty kin shine brightly for billions–or even trillions–of years, on the hydrogen-burning main sequence of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram of Stellar Evolution. Astrophysicists have assumed for many years that these ancient, massive stars exploded as similarly spherical supernovae.

Stellar Legacy Of The First Stars

However, the team of astronomers at MIT and other institutions, have now found that these first stars may have blown themselves to smithereens in a much more powerful and asymmetric blast, hurling out jets howling into space that were sufficiently violent to eject heavy atomic elements into nearby galaxies. These newly forged elements–the first of their kind in the ancient Cosmos–served as the precious seeds for the second generation of stars, some of which can still be seen dancing brightly in our Universe today.

In a research paper published in the May 8, 2019 issue of the Astrophysical Journal, the sientists report a large amount of zinc in HE 1327-2326, which is an ancient stellar survivor that is among the Universe’s second generation of stars. They believe that the star could only have managed to get such an abundant quantity of zinc as a result of an asymmetric supernova blast that heralded the “death” of one of the very first stars to inhabit the primordial Cosmos. The now-vanished, short-lived, first generation star thus enriched the younger second-generation star’s natal cloud of gas with its freshly forged batch of heavier atomic elements.

“When a star explodes, some proportion of that star gets sucked into a black hole like a vacuum cleaner. Only when you have some kind of mechanism, like a jet that can yank out material, can you observe that material later in a next-generation star. And we believe that’s exactly what could have happened here,” Dr. Anna Frebel explained in a May 8, 2019 MIT Press Release. Dr. Frebel is an associate professor of physics at MIT and a member of MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research. Mkv Movies Download 

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