“Everything has to be destroyed so that new things can be created.” The entire universe is made of just 92 elements. Everything that was created, including matter and the atoms from our body, was not created on Earth but originated from the life cycle of stars. Everything and everyone in the universe was made of the same ingredients, according to Professor Cox.
Stars are generated from a nebula. A nebula is an interstellar cloud that consists of dust and gas. In the beginning, the universe was dense and very hot. As the universe cools, structures started to emerge. When the symmetry of the universe broke, electroweak symmetry breaking took place. Electroweak symmetry breaking occurred which lead to subatomic particles acquiring mass which included the quarks.
The quarks would fuse to each other resulting in larger and more complex structures called protons and neutrons. These are the building blocks of all the elements. Protons and Neutrons form the nuclei of all atom. These protons and neutrons assemble itself to form all the 92 elements of the universe.
The first element that was made was Hydrogen, which is the simplest element and from Hydrogen, you can make all the other elements, According to Cox. Elements are defined based on the number of protons that they compose of. The process when two atomic nuclei join to form a new and more complex element is called nuclear fusion. This difficult process of nuclear fusion only occurs in a star.
“They are the only place in the universe hot enough and dense enough to fuse atoms together.” Our sun is only hot enough to fuse hydrogen to helium. The other elements require much higher temperatures than stars that are in the prime of their lives cannot reach. The other ninety elements are produced at the end of a star’s life where the temperature is hot enough. A star’s life is determined by how much supply of hydrogen they have left to burn, and this may take up to billions of years. When a star is dying, it becomes the hottest, brightest and biggest object in the universe. Nuclear reactions outside the star’s core cause the star to expand rapidly to about hundred times its original size for over thousands of years.
As the star cools, it becomes a red giant. A red giant is a dying star which is at the end stages of its life. The core of a star is much hotter and denser than the surface. This is where the other ninety elements are produced. In the core, the star tries to prevent itself from collapsing under its own weight. The dying stages of a star include: • Stage 1: The star still has a supply hydrogen to burn. As the star converts hydrogen to helium, energy is released which is used to maintain the stability of the star. When the supply of hydrogen is used up, the nuclear reactions stop.
No more energy will be released, and the core will start to cave in on itself leaving shells of hydrogen and helium behind. As the core collapse, the temperature increases. • Stage 2: Occurs at 100,000,000 degrees. In a helium fusion, helium nuclei join, and more energy is released which resulted in the collapse being halted. Carbon and oxygen are also produced during this process. When the supply of helium is used up, gravity causes the collapse to begin again. • Stage 3: The temperature rises, carbon fuses into elements such as magnesium, neon, sodium, and aluminum.
Stages after stages include the core collapsing, even more, the temperate of the core being hotter than before, new elements fusing together, and each stage is shorter than the last. • The final stage: This stage last only a couple of days. The core of the star is transformed into iron. Fusion stops. The star made all the elements.
The core is now a solid ball of all the 92 elements in the universe stacked on top of each other. The star can no longer release energy, therefore, it caves in on itself. Gold and other heavier elements are created when massive stars are in the final stages of their life cycle. They attain the temperature needed to form more substantial elements than hydrogen and helium. “It’s called a supernova. The most powerful explosion in the universe.
” Once the explosion dissolves as a nebula it leaves behind a ball of densely packed neutron called a neutron star. Neutron stars are made in supernova explosions. The sun is a second-generation star. First generation stars are much massive than our sun. When they explode, the remains lead to a new generation of stars being formed with traces of elements from the first-generation stars.