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Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Life and Death of Stars for an excellent
description of the life and death of stars and where our Sun, our planets,
the Earth, and we ourselves come from. They are all made of stardust.

The Life and Death of Stars
Lectures by Dr. Keivan G. Stassun

The Life and Death of Stars (2014) - 24 lectures, 12 hours
The Life and Death of Stars at TheGreatCourses.com

For thousands of years, stars have been the prime example of something unattainable and unknowable - places so far away that we can learn almost nothing about them. Yet amazingly, astronomers have been able to discover exactly what stars are made of, how they are born, how they shine, how they die, and how they play a surprisingly direct role in our lives. Over the past century, this research has truly touched the stars, uncovering the essential nature of the beautiful panoply of twinkling lights that spans the night sky.

Consider these remarkable discoveries about the stars:

  • We are stardust: Every atom heavier than hydrogen and a few other light elements was forged at the heart of a star. The oxygen we breathe, the carbon in every cell of our bodies, and practically all other chemical elements are, in fact, stellar ashes.
  • Light fingerprints: Stars emit light across the entire range of the electromagnetic spectrum. Spectral lines and other features of starlight act like fingerprints to identify what a star is made of, its temperature, motion, and other properties.
  • Diamonds in the sky: Carbon is the end product of stars that are roughly the size of our sun. When such stars die, they shrink down to an unimaginably dense and inert ball of carbon atoms - a massive diamond in the sky called a white dwarf.
  • Space weather: Stars produce more than light and heat. Their outermost layer emits a steady stream of charged particles that constitutes a stellar wind. This wind can be strong enough to strip an atmosphere off a nearby planet.

No other large-scale object in the universe is as fundamental as a star. Galaxies are made of stars. Planets, asteroids, and comets are leftover debris from star formation. Nebulae are the remnants of dead stars and the seedbed for a new generation of stars. Even black holes, which are bizarre deformations of spacetime with infinite density, are a product of stars, typically created when a high-mass star ends its life in core collapse and a supernova explosion. And, of course, the sun is a star, without which we couldn't exist.

Long ago, the magnificence of the star-filled sky and its clock-like motions inspired people to invent myths to explain this impressive feature of nature. Now we understand the stars at a much deeper level, not as legendary figures connected with constellations, but as engines of matter, energy, and the raw material of life itself. And thanks to powerful telescopes, our view of the stars is more stunning than ever.

The Life and Death of Stars introduces you to this spectacular story in 24 beautifully illustrated half-hour lectures that lead you through the essential ideas of astrophysics - the science of stars. Your guide is Professor Keivan G. Stassun of Vanderbilt University, an award-winning teacher and noted astrophysicist. Professor Stassun provides lively, eloquent, and authoritative explanations at a level suitable for science novices as well as for those who already know their way around the starry sky.

Dr. Keivan G. Stassun is Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt University. He earned his Ph.D. in Astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Professor Stassun's research on the birth of stars, eclipsing binary stars, exoplanetary systems, and the Sun has appeared in the prestigious research journal Nature, has been featured on NPR's Earth & Sky, and has been published in more than 100 peer-reviewed journal articles. He also serves as host for Tennessee Explorers, a television show highlighting the work of scientists and engineers to inspire the next generation of scientific explorers.

24 Lectures - 30 minutes each

1: Why the Stellar Life Cycle Matters 13: E = mc2 - Energy for a Star's Life
2: The Stars' Information Messenger 14: Stars in Middle Age
3: Measuring the Stars with Light 15: Stellar Death
4: Stellar Nurseries 16: Stellar Corpses - Diamonds in the Sky
5: Gravitational Collapse and Protostars 17: Dying Breaths - Cepheids and Supernovae
6: The Dynamics of Star Formation 18: Supernova Remnants and Galactic Geysers
7: Solar Systems in the Making 19: Stillborn Stars
8: Telescopes - Our Eyes on the Stars 20: The Dark Mystery of the First Stars
9: Mass - The DNA of Stars 21: Stars as Magnets
10: Eclipses of Stars - Truth in the Shadows 22: Solar Storms - The Perils of Life with a Star
11: Stellar Families 23: The Stellar Recipe of Life
12: A Portrait of Our Star, the Sun 24: A Tale of Two Stars


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The Life and Death of Stars
Lectures by Dr. Keivan G. Stassun

Sioux Falls Scientists endorse The Life and Death of Stars for an excellent
description of the life and death of stars and where our Sun, our planets,
the Earth, and we ourselves come from. They are all made of stardust.