Massive stars fuse heavier elements in their cores than lower mass stars. This leads to the creation of heavier elements up to iron. Iron robs critical energy from the core, causing it to collapse. The shock wave, together with a huge swarm of neutrinos, blast through the star’s outer layers, causing it to explode. The resulting supernova creates even more heavy elements, scattering them through space. Also, happily, we’re in no danger from a nearby supernova.
The Ship of the Imagination travels across the cosmos to discover the possibility of beings that live forever and explain why other civilizations perish. Then, visit the Cosmic Calendar of the Future and contemplate what lies ahead with a hopeful vision.
In the aftermath of a 8 – 20 solar mass star’s demise we find a weird little object known as a neutron star. Neutrons stars are incredibly dense, spin rapidly, and have very strong magnetic fields. Some of them we see as pulsars, flashing in brightness as they spin. Neutrons stars with the strongest magnetic fields are called magnetars, and are capable of colossal bursts of energy that can be detected over vast distances.
Landing humans on Mars will be hard, but keeping them alive will be even harder. NASA scientists are on the verge of designing some of the most innovative rockets and training the astronauts who will pilot them.