Carbon From Cosmic Source

Carbon is the chemical basis of life. It is crucial for all life forms. The synthesis of such chemical elements is very important. Have you ever wondered about the cosmic as a source of Carbon? The fusion of stars generally results in different types of elements. Research done at Max Planck Institute has shown that the yield of Carbon becomes twice when the massive stars are with their companion star. Things work better in pairs!

Massive stars are essential for the synthesis of heavy elements – from Carbon and oxygen to iron. These stellar heavyweights are born in multiple star systems. Massive stars are part of a binary system. Most stars like the sun are lighted by the tons of nuclear reactions and hydrogen fusion into helium. When stars complete 90% of their life span, they start converting helium into Carbon and Oxygen. Massive stars continue to burn and convert Carbon into heavier elements up to iron. However, lightweights like the sun do not get beyond Carbon and oxygen.

The major challenge for us is to get Carbon before it gets destroyed. This isn’t easy with single stars. When stars are in the binary system, they interact and transfer mass from their envelope to their companion. This is how the stars that lose their mass develop a carbon-rich layer near their surface. The supernova explosion produces Carbon into space. In recent studies, it has been found that the binary systems of a massive star produce most of the cosmic Carbon. The prominent giant stars or cosmic events are often less effective.

The synthesis of Carbon from the cosmos is an insignificant but crucial step for a better understanding of the role of massive stars in creating the elements. This is only one type of interaction present in the binary star system. But many other possible interactions between companion stars lead to the yield of different types of elements.

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