One star’s ash is another sun’s treasure
A friend just shared a quote from Victor Tenbaum:
The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up the nebulae, that burn inside the stars themselves. We are star stuff.
We can all use a little more reason to come together these days, so let’s add to this.
Beyond rote burning, stars fuse atoms, creating the heavier elements — without them, we would live in a universe of hydrogen with a dash of helium. Atoms in your body like calcium and carbon and oxygen (all those larger that the smallest atoms, H and He) are only created in stars.
And even farther: elements heavier than iron are too large to be made by nuclear fusion as occurs in the core of a large star. They’re only made when a star reaches the end of its life and explodes into a supernova, a galactic blast of so much concentrated energy and heat that it creates the rest of the heavier elements in the periodic table.
They then float around in nebular clouds for billions of years, eventually condensing to form new stars, with little planets orbiting them. Some of those planets are rich in water and are juuuust the right distance away from the sun. Some also have metal cores that make magnetic fields that conveniently deflect incoming solar wind, which would otherwise sweep away an atmosphere. An atmosphere like the one we have on Earth, that over time formed a bubble within which turbulent volcanic eruptions finally subsided, giving rise to a stable climate where complicated configurations of stardust atoms formed into molecules like amino acids and RNA and lipid bilayers and eventually…
You! You evolved from the largest explosions in the universe.
From a cacophony, the elegant complexity of life, and eventually humanity, emerges. Damn wonderful.
PS: “On average, a supernova will occur about once every 50 years in our galaxy, the Milky Way.” — NASA says. Our sun is one of ~100 billion stars in it.
Originally published at Amy Robinson Sterling.