Can it really be chance that in the process of star evolution, supernovas spew organic molecules—the very molecules we are made of—across vast reaches of space?
Can it really be chance that we are, quite literally, made of stardust?
Many of us don't think about that, but it's very unusual. Almost all other substances become denser, and thus heavier, when they freeze (become solid).
Not ice. Due to the chemical bonds that hold the hydrogen atoms together, water becomes less dense when it drops below 39° fahrenheit. By the time it freezes into ice at 32°, it is about 9% less dense than liquid water and so, it floats.
The result is that lakes and rivers freeze from the top down, creating an insulating layer of ice that prevents them from freezing solid and killing everything living in them.
Christians have argued for centuries that this unique property of water is an evidence of design, of a Creator that loves us and is at work in creation.
It's not right that we appeal to that unique feature of nature, but we ignore the just as amazing fact that stellar evolution produces the molecules we are made of!
In Nuclear fusion, two or more atoms are combined into one, producing large amounts of energy. Our sun right now is combining two hydrogen atoms into one helium atom to warm our earth.
Not all of a star is in nuclear fusion. That would not be a star; that would be a bomb. We'll read about how stars turn into very big bombs in a moment.
The fusion goes on only deep within the core. The corona, the outer part of a star is heated by the nuclear reactions going on in the core.
Within several billion years our sun will run out of hydrogen. At that point in its stellar evolution, it will begin to combine three helium atoms into one carbon atom (at which time it will expand and consume us). Because our sun is just an average-sized star, it will burn out in that stage.
Not the largest stars. They continue far past carbon.
The largest stars, as they exhaust their supply of helium, will begin fusing carbon into larger elements. This process continues through several stages of stellar evolution, culminating in the fusion of silicon into nickel.
The interesting thing about this is that when elements larger than iron (nickel is two protons larger than iron) are fused, no energy is released. Massive amounts of energy are released when hydrogen is fused into helium, but when nickel is produced, no energy is released.
A star that reaches this stage of evolution has fusion going on in several layers. Each layer of fusion holds up the layers above it with the energy it produces.
The center, however, where nickel is being fused, is not producing energy. Fortunately, for the star, that nickel is radioactive, and it's decaying into iron. That decay produces energy, just enough to keep the star stable.
Unfortunately for the star, that can't continue forever. In fact, scientists say this last stage of large star evolution continues for just a few days.
The core suddenly collapses. The outer layers fall into the core at speeds reaching 45,000 miles per second. Wow!
That kind of collapse and compression produces massive amounts of heat.
At this point the details are very complicated (but interesting!), involving things like gamma rays reducing the iron in the core to neutrons and neutrinos, a neutron core being formed, and energy being released and absorbed through the layers of the star.
The general results of large star evolution are not complicated at all. The star blows up with a really big explosion!
Simply put, the explosion produces all the heavy elements "that make up stars, planets, and everything on earth …
" … including ourselves."
As Christians, can we believe that's an accident?
The heavens declare the glory of God,
And the firmament shows his handiwork.
Day to day utters speech,
And night to night declares knowledge.
They have no speech or language;
Their voice is not heard,
But their sound has gone throughout the earth
And their words to the end of the world.
All Bible verses are taken from the King James Version and updated for language and grammar.
Copyright © 2009-2017 Paul F. Pavao. All rights reserved.