Betelgeuse’s guide of life: Through the Galaxy Edition

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Betelgeuse’s guide of life: Through the Galaxy Edition
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by Sophia Mamone, contributing reporter

The star circled in neon blue is Betelgeuse. Photo attribution to Thomas Bresson on Flickr.

The star circled in neon blue is Betelgeuse. Photo attribution to Thomas Bresson on Flickr.

As I watched yet another star go into a black hole, it made me think back to the life I had as a star, when I was first born to my death. I remember it like it was yesterday, what a journey.

A stellar nebula they call it, where I was first born. It was like a nursery of the Universe. Trillions of stars everywhere! It was a gigantic cloud of dust and gas. I always wondered how I was born, and once I grew older and wiser I realized a star is born when they run out of fuel to burn. I stayed as a nebula for awhile. As a nebula, I wondered which way I would go. I noticed some of my friends going up, and some going down. One day, my question was answered. I went down, and now I considered myself a massive star.

My grandfather always told me I was special, he said I wasn’t average, I was massive, bright, and brilliant. I was going through a star version of puberty! A massive star is born like an average star, I learned, out of clouds of dust called nebulae. I liked being a massive star, it was really fun. It was cool to have  a balance between my forces: gravitational inward and the core nuclear fusion outward. Just as I settled and became used to my surroundings…

A SUPERGIANT! I was mixed with tons of emotions, more emotions than stars in the universe, and that’s a ton! It was awesome, cool, scary, frightening, thrilling, crazy, and more! I was red, and bright! If only sunglasses existed for stars! I was the largest star in the universe, in terms of volume, although I wasn’t the most massive. As I wondered how I came to be a supergiant, I learned that Stars with more than about 10 solar masses, after burning their hydrogen, become red supergiants during their helium-burning phase. Now it made sense! Soon, I felt weird. Like I was coming really close, like someone was squeezing me together from both sides.  BOOM!

I think I caused a large explosion! I thought that this was the end of it. I thought my life as a star would be over, but it wasn’t. Soon I learned what becoming a supernova meant. I knew it was a large explosion that occurs at the end of a star’s life cycle, so I wanted to live my life to the fullest as I knew it would soon end. I learned being a supernova was a dramatic and catastrophic destruction that was marked by one final titanic explosion. Boy was that a big explosion! Before my grandfather and I lost each other, I recall him informing me about this stage of my life. He said that for a short time, this causes the sudden appearance of a ‘new’ bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months. That explained why I noticed a change in my luminosity. Sadly, this fading was leading to my last stage of life, a neutron star.

That was the only thing my grandfather couldn’t tell me, whether I would become a neutron star or go into a black hole. Judging by my mass, most stars predict that I would become a neutron star, although there was always a possibility of going into a black hole. Becoming a neutron star was like the icing on the cake for my life. I was glad I was at least still a star, even though I was a compact star, and the  smallest and densest star known to exist in the Universe. I, at least, still lived on! No, I wasn’t as bright and brilliant as my early years as a supergiant, or as heavy and bold I was as a massive star, but it was better than fading away and becoming a black hole. Here, I watched other stars live their life and follow their journey, and hoped to be as a helpful advisor as my grandpa was to me, because without his wise advice, I would have probably had a star attack at my supernova stage and would not have been where I am today.  

I hope by reading my guide you are prepared for the stages of your life as a star. As the moral of my life story is, going through stages of the universe is much more than a rollercoaster, but with a wise advisor you can go through just about anything.

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