A month ago, we introduced Cosmic Origins, a tablet app you can download and then purchase four fabulous interactive products that lie within. Three of these article packages focus on different categories of objects in the cosmos, like planets, stars, and galaxies. The fourth focuses on the universe itself. Each of the four products — essentially digital special issues — is chock-full of new research and fun ways to learn more about that science.
In the product How stars form and evolve, you’ll explore what scientists know about stars and their evolution, step through a gas cloud condensing into a star, view how iron captures neutrons to create heavier elements, flip through a gallery of stellar explosions, and more.
The Milky Way Galaxy holds some 200 billion stars, and the universe contains hundreds of billions of galaxies — clearly the cosmos contains trillions upon trillions of stars ranging in size and age. And yet even with such great diversity, scientists have been able to piece together much of the stellar life cycle. They have a pretty good idea of how a star creates elements through nuclear fusion in its core and then spews those elements into the universe to seed future generations. They know that when a massive star dies, it explodes as a supernova and can leave behind a black hole, while low-mass stars fade away into oblivion. Astronomers still have some questions, though, like how the first stars in the universe grew from primordial material and where in the Milky Way our Sun was born.
Stellar life cycles stare us in the face every day. After all, the carbon in our bones, the oxygen we breathe, the phosphorus in our DNA — these elements all came from stars. That incredible thought — that the formation and evolution of distant suns is connected to humans — is what inspired the staff of Astronomy magazine to create the digital interactive publication How stars form and evolve.
So go ahead, start exploring stellar evolution in our universe. You can download the Cosmic Origins app at the Apple App Store (for iPads) or the Google Play store (for Android tablets), which allows you to then purchase How stars form and evolve. You can also preview the product and the three others in Cosmic Origins at www.Astronomy.com/cosmicorigins.