Archive | Stellar Evolution

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Ep. 306: Accretion Discs

When too much material tries to come together, everything starts to spin and flatten out. You get an accretion disc. Astronomers find them around newly forming stars, supermassive black holes and many other places in the Universe. Today we’ll talk about what it takes to get an accretion disc, and how they help us understand […]

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Artist’s_impression_of_the_disc_of_dust_and_gas_around_a_brown_dwarf

Ep: 290 Failed Stars

If you get enough hydrogen together in one place, gravity pulls it together to the point that the temperature and pressures are enough for fusion to occur. This is a star. But what happens when you don’t have quite enough hydrogen? Then you get a failed star, like a gas giant planet or a brown […]




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Ep. 109: The Life of Other Stars

Last week we looked at the complete life of the Sun, birth to death. But stars can be smaller, and stars can get much much larger. And with a change in mass, their lives change too. Let’s start the clock again, and see what happens to the smallest stars in the Universe; and what happens […]

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Ep. 75: Stellar Populations

After the big bang, all we had was hydrogen, a little bit of helium, and a few other trace elements. Today, we’ve a whole periodic table of elements to enjoy, from oxygen we breathe to the aluminium cans we drink from to the uranium that powers some people’s homes. How did we get from plain […]




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Ep. 46: Stellar Nurseries

We’ve discussed star formation in the past, but now we wanted to talk about the different kinds of stellar nurseries we see across the Universe. We know where our Sun came from because we can look out and see different stellar neighborhoods at every stage of development. It takes a village of gas and dust […]




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Ep. 36: Gamma-Ray Bursts

Gamma ray bursts are the most powerful explosions in the Universe, releasing more energy in a few seconds than our Sun will put out in its lifetime. It’s only been in the last few years that astronomers are finally starting to unravel the cataclysmic events that cause these energetic explosions. Episode 36: Gamma-Ray Bursts (14MB) […]




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Ep. 22: Variable Stars

Our Sun has been around for billions of years, and will last for billions more. We’re lucky, it’s pretty stable and regular as stars go, only changing in brightness a little now and then. But there are stars out there that change dramatically; astronomers call them variable stars, and they demonstrate just how bizarre and […]




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Ep. 13: Where Do Stars Go When They Die?

We’ve celebrated the birth of new stars, but the stellar lifecycle doesn’t end there. Stars like our Sun will spend billions of years fusing together hydrogen and pumping out energy. And when the fuel runs out, their death is as interesting as their birth. This week Fraser and Pamela trace out this stellar evolution, and […]




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Ep. 12: Where Do Baby Stars Come From?

Most parents have had that uncomfortable conversation with their children at some point. Mommy, Daddy, where do stars come from? You hem and haw, mumble a few words about angular momentum and primordial hydrogen and then cleverly change the subject. Well, you don’t have to avoid the subject any longer. Pamela and Fraser describe formation […]




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