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Astrochemistry

Introduction

What happens chemically as stars age?

As stars age, they continually produce helium from hydrogen by fusion. So as time goes by, the amount of helium in a star increases and the amount of hydrogen decreases. In order to keep the fusion reaction going, stars heat up and get brighter as they age. Stars also continually give off a small portion of their mass, which generates solar (or stellar) wind. For our sun this is an exceedingly tiny amount of material, so don’t worry about it vanishing anytime soon. Finally, stars slowly make elements heavier than helium as they age. This is typically quantified by reporting the ratio of iron to hydrogen in a star. Iron is not the most abundant of the heavier elements present in stars, but it is among the easiest of the heavier elements to detect.



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