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Stars produce heavier elements

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TIME: 2-13 billion years

. When stars first began to form and galaxies took shape, hydrogen, helium and lithium were basically the only three elements in the Universe. The heavier elements come from inside stars. Stars consume hydrogen and create heavier elements through the process of nuclear fusion. All the elements in the Universe today that are heavier than lithium come from the inside of stars.
. How did these elements get outside the stars? The diagram above is slightly misleading. The heavy elements don't just leap from the insides of the stars where they were made. The heavier elements we see in the world today were all ejected from stars that had reached the end of their lifespan and exploded into supernovas before settling into old age as a white dwarf, a neutron star or a black hole.
. The process of making the heavy elements and then ejecting them into the Universe takes place over a time scale that is the lifespan of a star. That's why the time scale here runs from 2 billion to 13 billion years.


How old is the Universe? // Structure of the Universe // The Big Bang // Before the Big Bang? // What about string theory?


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