Star stuff refers to all elements and compounds that are released when a star blows up during the process of shedding off its outer layers. It is composed of gases and other heavy elements released during the explosion. Carl Sagan, a 1980s astronomer, had a famous quote where he said that we are all made of star stuff and that we will return to the cosmos when we die.
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The process that leads to the formation of star stuff is a complex phenomenon that involves the origin and “death” of stars. Star stuff can also be referred as dust that reaches our atmosphere after the explosion of a star in space. This dust contains various elements that form atoms in our bodies.
Hydrogen, which is the main component of stars, circulates in space as cloud dust after the formation of stardust. These clouds condense and group together, causing pressure to rise in the collapsing clouds leading to increased temperature forming protostars. They then gain more mass from the clouds around them to become main sequence stars like the sun. They are constantly in a nuclear fusion state emitting a lot of energy which converts the hydrogen gas to helium over time (NASA 2010).
Helium accumulates in large amounts to the core of a star and raises its temperatures causing the outer shell of the star to expand. This follows the shedding off of the outer layers. The remnant is called a white dwarf which cools off for billions of years. Sometimes some stars can shed the layers in a violent explosive bang which is referred to as a supernova and whatever is left behind after such an explosion is a neutron star, but if it is large enough, it is a black hole. The explosion of a big star is known as a supernova. It is this process that causes the release of elements such as hydrogen into the atmosphere. Thus, when hydrogen combines with oxygen it forms water which is found on the earth’s surface as well as our bodies (Melina 2010).
A star has different layers of elements down to its core and when it explodes as a supernova, it also releases hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, carbon, silicon and iron. Thus, every element in the periodic table comes from stardust. The human body consists mainly of oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, phosphorus and calcium. The huge energy emissions convert hydrogen to helium and when the hydrogen supply is over, the star goes through expansions and contractions caused by the energy emissions that lead to the formation of carbon, oxygen and other heavier elements if the star is big enough.
Oxygen forms an integral part lives since our bodies are 70% water. More so, the our DNA is made up of nitrogen, our blood has iron, we breathe oxygen, calcium is the main component of our teeth and most of our body mass is made up of organic carbon. The body is also made up of other elements and compound such as potassium, iodine, magnesium, sulphur and chlorine. These compounds are responsible for the formation of muscle proteins as well as ensuring that the body water level is balanced. All these elements and compounds originate from star stuff and thus Carl was right since our bodies are made up of elements released during the explosion of the stars to form stars tuff.
Melina, Remy. Beta Live Science 2010. Web.
NASA: Science Astrophysics 2013. Web.