The lifecycle of stars is an important topic among many astronomers. Small stars like our Sun will expand and release outer layers as they evolve into white dwarfs, while many massive stars tend to find their demise in the form of supernova explosions.
However, the factors which contribute to the final faith of intermediate-size stars have remained a mystery. Stars of this size have a mass that is between seven to eleven times bigger than that of the Sun. Questions related to the possibility of supernovae events or layer shedding have been floating around the scientific community for a while, and it seems that a possible answer may have been found.
As the dye, intermediate-size stars will consume their hydrogen and helium reserves, while developing cores which are rich in neon, oxygen, and magnesium. The loss of the outer hydrogen layers will boost the chance to become a white dwarf. On the other hand, a core could grow big enough to collapse and favor the appearance of a neutron star.
The neon can influence stars’ lifespan
The problem with cores is that they are strange objects with interesting traits. For example, the impressive force exerted by gravity can be overruled by the quantum mechanics rules that are present in the case of electrons. Since electrons cannot share identical quantum properties, there has to be a distance between them.
It is essential to note the fact that the process is influenced by the rate at which neon atoms present within the core can capture electrons. This phenomenon is quite dangerous as it can trigger the oxygen present in the star, sparking a powerful explosion.
A team of researchers conducted several experiments that revealed that the rate at which neon atoms capture electrons is considerably higher than previously thought. The discovery has been deemed to be a significant milestone in nuclear astrophysics, and more data can be found in a scientific journal.