LIVE FROM A BLACK HOLE
Tuesday March 6, 2001
13:00 Eastern

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF STARS

Pat Slane

But where do black holes come from? So far astronomers only claim to understand with some likelihood of being correct the birth of stellar-size black holes. Supermassive and even mid-mass blacks holes remain mysterious. But we know that stars several times more massive than our Sun will end their life in colossal supernova explosions: some of these will result in neutron stars, and others--if their mass and other conditions permit--as black holes.

This section traces the life and death of stars of different sizes. We discover that a starís size and color, temperature and lifetime are all related, because of basic scientific principles we presume hold true throughout the Universe. CHANDRA researcher Pat Slane uses a vacuum pump and a 55 gallon oil drum (!) to demonstrate how a starís fusion can, for a time, push back at the force of gravity which otherwise would collapse it, until eventually all its fuel is used up and the star dies. Kathy Flanagan relates the life and death of stars to life on Earth: weíre literally made of the elements created in supernova explosions.

Pat Slane

Program 1     1    2    3     4    5    6 Program 2     1    2    3     4    5    6