[stars] Nuclear Fuel usage rate

  • Thread starter vincentm
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  • #26
Danger
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vincentm said:
But why is it that more massive stars face a different fate than stars like that of our sun?
Their lives are more violent. When each particular fuel is exhausted, there is an abrupt drop in radiation pressure, which allows the star to gravitationally collapse enough to initiate the next stage of fusion. (There are also burning 'shells' of leftover fuel, but I'm going to ignore them.) Giant stars have a lot more gravity, and their fuel is exhausted much faster. The serious nastiness happens when you have enough gravity to initiate the fusing of carbon, etc. into iron. Iron quenches fusion reactions, so then you have a complete shutdown of the core. Everything left around it smashes into it and ignites in a massive detonation (nova or supernova). Our sun won't reach that stage because it won't be able to initiate higher level fusion.

Feel free to put that into proper terms for me, Tiger.
 
  • #27
turbo
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vincentm said:
Sorry to resurrect this thread from the graveyard. But why is it that more massive stars face a different fate than stars like that of our sun? Does it have to do with the amount of Hydrogen that is being depleted? Or the amount of heavier elements being burned once it's main sequence of fuel is finished?
You should probably Google on "stellar evolution" and follow a few links. This can be understood on a number of levels and it is helpful to read about it from a number of viewpoints.

It gets really interesting once you get to the ultra-dense domains of white dwarf stars and neutron stars, in which the Fermionic behavior of the constituent degenerate matter supplies the repulsive force necessary to resist further gravitational collapse.
 

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