Galactic Neighbor Spews Out Gas in Brilliant Explosions

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Galactic Neighbor Spews Out Gas in Brilliant Explosions
University of California: Berkeley - UC Berkeley Astronomy Department
Astronomer Nathan Smith discusses the properties of the most massive stars known, born with masses of 30 to 150 times the mass of our Sun.Massive stars dominate many of the physical processes in interstellar space when they explode as brilliant supernovae, but these stars also wreak havoc on their surroundings before they die, leading short lives that are very different from that of the Sun. Early on, their ultraviolet radiation and fast winds carve huge cavities in the dark clouds that gave birth to them, disrupting the cradles where many other less massive stars are quietly trying to begin their lives.Such regions are likely to be the birthplace of solar systems like our own.Later on, as these monster stars become violently unstable, they can erupt repeatedly like volcanoes or undergo violent encounters with companion stars before they finally meet their end in a supernova explosion, ending up as either a compact neutron star or black hole.

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