Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Stardust from Exploding Stars

    In 1054, Chinese astronomers saw a star the Chinese described as six times brighter than Venus and about as brilliant as the full Moon. 

    This "guest star," as the Chinese called it, was so bright that people saw it in the sky during the day for almost a month. 

    During that time, the star was blazing with the light of about 400 million suns, and remained visible in the evening sky for more than a year. 

    Chinese astronomers described the reddish-white star as having pointed rays in all four directions.

When telescopes were able to investigate the area of the sky where the 'guest star' had been seen, there was a glowing gas cloud.

The remains of the star were named the Crab Nebula, a cloudy, glowing mass of gas and dust about 7,000 light-years away from Earth.

This type of explosion is called a supernova and happens when the star collapses.

Heavy elements are made in supernova events, and those elements are then part of the clouds that collect to make new stars and planets.

This is why scientists say "We are stardust".

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