A Star’s Birth—and Death

Each star is a balancing act, with crushing gravity pulling inward against an interior nuclear blast furnace pushing out. When the star’s fuel is exhausted, gravity wins and the star implodes. But its fate and the elements it forges before its collapse are foretold by its original size. The more massive the star, the more violent its ending.

As heavier elements fuse at the core, lighter elements move outward.

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Jason Treat and Alexander Stegmaier, NGM Staff. Art by Mark A. Garlick
Sources: Avery Broderick, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of Waterloo, Canada; UCLA Galactic Center Group.