Astronomy

Children of the Stars

Children of the Stars

The origin of life is in the explosions of the great supernovae, which took place billions of years before we existed. All the atoms that today make up our body, like pieces of a puzzle, formed a day inside the stars.

We are literally children of the stars. The iron that now runs through our blood, the calcium in the bones that keeps us standing, the carbon in our DNA, the oxygen we breathe ... everything was born from the fusion of protons inside a star.

Atoms are made up of protons, electrons and neutrons. There are 92 types of atoms in the natural state. What distinguishes each other is the number of protons they contain. The simplest is the hydrogen atom, with only one proton. It is followed by helium with two protons, lithium with three, beryllium with four ... and so on until it reaches uranium, with 92 protons.

Stars are formed mainly of hydrogen which, being the simplest element, is the most abundant in the Cosmos. In the nucleus of the stars, the pressure and the temperature are so high that the atoms imprison and collide with each other in such a violent way that they end up merging. Two hydrogen atoms fuse and form a helium atom. Two of helium merge and form one of beryllium.

Each time a new proton fuses, it forms a new type of atom, heavier than the previous one. Thus, with six fused protons we will have carbon, with seven nitrogen, with eight oxygen, etc. An enormous amount of energy is released in each fusion process. Part of this energy is the light itself and the heat that the stars give off.

In small stars, the fusion process only reaches carbon. They have no strength to continue. That is why carbon abounds so much in the Cosmos. However, in the big massive stars the fusion chain continues. The basic elements for life are formed: in addition to the hydrogen and carbon we already had, nitrogen and oxygen are formed. Water, so important for life, is the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. It also forms inside the supernovae, which then release it in the form of steam when they explode.

The fusion of protons continues, more and more rapidly, until reaching the iron, in the form of gas. When the star's core becomes iron, the explosion is imminent. When a supernova explodes, all the gases and heavy materials in its core are fired into space with unimaginable violence. The elements of life are dispersed throughout the Cosmos.

Our ancestors looked at the stars with reverence and fear. They made offerings and raised monuments. Somehow, they felt their life linked to them. We are the first generation in the history of humanity that has lost the stars. With light and environmental pollution we stop seeing them. And look at them. We have lost the memory that we are stellar matter, children of the Stars.

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