3 mins read 17 Jan 2020

The Skyentists 31 - The cycle of life in stars

The Skyentists 31 - The cycle of life in stars

The Skyentists featuring Ángel and Kirsten sitting in front of a computer recording the podcast


Despite what you might have read or heard during the last weeks, Betelgeuse is not going to explode as a supernova... yet... For explaining this in a bit more detail our Skyentists, astronomers Ángel López-Sánchez and Kirsten Banks, provide an overview of what we know about stellar evolution. Stars are born from cold clumps in molecular clouds. Then they spend the majority of their life burning hydrogen into helium in the so-called "main sequence".

However, depending on the original mass of the star it will evolve and die in a very different way. The most massive stars will burn helium into other elements till they build an iron core, quickly exploding as a supernova. Low-mass stars like the Sun will form a planetary nebula with the naked core, which is now a white dwarf star.

They also discuss how astronomers use the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram to understand stellar evolution, as well as define the most important spectral types in stars: O B A F G K M. We need your feedback here, what is your mnemotechnic rule for remembering the right order in the spectral classification of the stars?

For "Space News" Kirsten brings a nice story that happened to her in Twitter and Ángel explains why the Hubble Space Telescope observed the massive spiral galaxy UGC 2885, which is now known as "Rubin's galaxy".

For "What's Up!" we talk about the beautiful Rosette Nebula (Caldwell 49) in Monoceros (The Unicorn)

The Skyentists

Kirsten Banks is a proud Wiradjuri woman, astrophysicist and science communicator. She’s always had her eyes on the skies and loves to share her passion for space and astronomy. Kirsten jumps at almost every opportunity to share the wonders of the Universe with a wide range of people, from speaking to students at schools to sharing her love for space on national television programs such as ABC’s Q&A. In the years to come, Kirsten looks forward to completing a Ph.D. and becoming Dr. Kirsten Banks. 

Dr. Ángel López-Sánchez is an astronomer and science communicator at the Australian Astronomical Optics and the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Macquarie University. He studies how the gas is converted into stars in nearby galaxies and how this affects galaxy evolution. He also provides support for visiting astronomers to the Anglo-Australian Telescope. He is a globally-recognised science communicator, with visibility in Spanish and Australian printed, broadcast, and social media (one of the Top-100 most-followed astrophysicists on Twitter). His stunning astronomy timelapse videos have received 1/4 million views on YouTube and have been used by ABC (Australia), BBC (UK), TVE (Spain) and in Science Museums worldwide. He is very active in social media, his Twitter feed is @El_Lobo_Rayado.

This podcast is syndicated with permissions.