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Stars and the Universe

Stars  -  Life Cycle  -  Supernova  -  Neutron Star  -  Black Hole.

What is a Supernova?

A large star will become highly unstable at the end
of its red super giant phase. It can contract very rapidly
and have a violent explosion called a supernova.

During the explosion the star can become intensely bright for
a very short period of time. A single supernova can be
as bright as all the other stars in the galaxy added together.

How are New Solar Systems Formed?

The outer part of the star may create a large number
of new heavy elements which get blown out into
space during the supernova explosion. This material
can form the substance of new solar systems.

How are Neutron Stars Formed?

The central core of the star is compressed into a
super-dense material during a supernova and forms
a neutron star. The core is made of neutrons that
are squashed together (see atomic structure) and it
may be one million times as dense as a white dwarf.
This super-dense material has a very high gravity.

What is a Black Hole?

If the core of a neutron star is very big then the gravity
is so great that the material becomes infinitely squashed.
It is now so small that it has hardly any size at all but
the gravity is so enormous that not even light can escape
from it. It is called a black hole and any nearby material
gets attracted inside and crushed out of existence.
Black holes may form part of what is called dark matter.

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