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ExploraTour On-Line Expedition: A Peek into the Lives of the Stars - Windows to the Universe

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The Winter 2010 issue of The Earth Scientist includes a variety of educational resources, ranging from astronomy to glaciers. Check out the other publications and classroom materials in our online store.

ExploraTour: A Peek into the Lives of the Stars

What Happens to Stars Much Heavier Than The Sun?

STAGE 2: Red Supergiant Phase

After the star depletes the hydrogen in its core and moves off the main sequence, the core contracts and heats causing the outer layers to expand. The expansion of the outer layers results in a cooling of the surface temperature. The star gets redder.

Meanwhile the core is getting hotter reaching 150 million K. At this temperature, helium (He) fuses explosively into carbon (C) and oxygen (O).

Gravitational collapse continues to raise the temperature of the core. When the core reaches an amazing 1 billion K, carbon fuses to produce neon (Ne), magnesium (Mg) and oxgyen (O). These elements fuse to produce even heavier elements.

At each stage less total energy is released and thus the stages get progressively more short-lived.

Finally an iron core is produced. Since no energy can be gained by fusing iron to make higher mass elements, the core collapses at blinding speeds.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Our online store includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books on science education!

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA