The Birth and Death of Stars

The Standard Model
Problems with the Standard Model
What about Star Nurseries?
The Plasma Model

The Standard Model

The standard, and taught, model of the birth of stars involves the gravitational attraction of particles to the extent that they finally form a ball of gas out of a dust cloud. The gas is primarily hydrogen and helium. Once this ball has formed, it continues to contract under its own weight until the center, or core, heats up to temperatures of tens of millions of degrees and hydrogen fuses to helium.

At that stage, the star is supposed to have evolved onto the main sequence (see the Milky Way Galaxy), and helium ash is being built up in the core. As more and more hydrogen in burnt, more and more helium ash is present in the core. For stars that have more than 1.5 mass of the sun, the core ends up containing sufficient helium whose temperatures and pressures are great enough to allow helium burning to begin. After the helium begins to burn, the star swells and becomes a red giant. Because of the weight of the helium, eventually a stage is reached where the helium core begins to contract under its own weight, and the temperature rises to over fifty million degrees. At this point the helium ignites and starts burning. When the helium ignites, it begins to fuse, becoming carbon, neon and oxygen. It is then, in this model, that a star will start to depart from the Main Sequence, illustrated below, and move towards the upper right, where will then become a red giant. (This means the standard model considers red giants to be old stars, regardless of any radiometric ages measured.)

Eventually carbon, neon and oxygen also start fusing and heavier elements are formed bit by bit in a specific sequence. The final result is a star that is layered internally with different bands of elements, ending with iron in the middle. Each element is considered to be an 'ash' from the previous burning.

star layers

It is important to note that these elements are known to be in stars. When a star explodes, these elements can be seen in the spectroscopes. This layering agrees with nuclear physics and Marklund Convection.

In the standard model, each stage of new element formation requires a bit more gravitational collapse in order to produce the heat needed. Once iron is produced, a massive collapse is required to produce other, heavier elements. There will then be a rebound from the incredible heat in the core and the star will explode as a supernova. The remnant that is left is said to become a fast spinning neutron star, or pulsar. Keep in mind this is the model for stars over 1.5 times the mass of our sun.

Definition: a neutron star is about 6.5 miles across with a mass 1.5 times that of our sun. It is considered to be made up entirely of neutrons. A pulsar is defined as a neutron star which emits rapid periodic pulses of radiation. This pulsing is attributed to its rotation rate. Because the pulses occur so rapidly, some pulsars are considered to be rotating at speeds up to 43,000 revolutions per minute. It is considered that only a neutron star could rotate so rapidly and still hold together gravitationally.

For stars less massive than 1.5 times our sun, the standard model says these stars throw off shells of gas forming planetary nebulas. They end up as "extinct" white dwarfs -- a star which has gone through its lifetime.

In general, the larger the star, the more quickly it is considered to burn. The most massive stars go through their life cycle very quickly -- in about ten million years. Stars like our sun, however, take more in the order of ten billion years to become red giants (our sun was considered to be formed when the universe was six billion years old). The least massive stars would take up to fifty billion years before they grow old.

In the standard model, stars shine because of the energy from the nuclear reaction in the center, or core, of the star. Eventually it gets to the surface and that is when the star begins to shine. So a newly formed star would not be shining for millions of years, as that is how long it would take for energy to get from the core to the surface.

star life cycle

star zones

Problems with the Standard Model

Formation of stars: Any gravitational contraction of the gas and dust would result in the cloud heating and re-expanding. Gravity is not strong enough to counteract the heating caused by any contraction. This we know happens in standard physics. Dark matter is sometimes invoked to get this collapse to happen. If dark matter exists, it then must be able to resist any of the heating. The argument is that dark matter is so massive and so large that it would not react to the tiny localized heating of any one star, although its force would be what caused the star to form. This might work for one star. But there are billions of stars in any one galaxy and billions of galaxies in the universe....and yet dark matter evidently exists silently and is unaffected by any of that although it, itself affects all of it.

Keep in mind we do not know what dark matter is, whether it actually exists or not, or what form it takes. It was presumed because the gravitational model requires it for not only star formation but for galaxies themselves to hold together.

The other explanation for the collapse of gas clouds to form stars is the action of molecules such as carbon monoxide which radiate heat in the far infrared, and in so doing, rids the cloud of excess heat, allowing it to collapse. Carbon monoxide and other complex molecules are seen in molecular clouds in space. As attractive as this explanation at first appears, it does not explain how the first stars could possibly have formed since there were no complex molecules at the beginning; the standard model only postulates hydrogen and a little helium at the beginning. So, somehow, the first stars had to form without the help of anything but gravity.

Main Sequence Problems: As explained in the page on the Milky Way Galaxy, what we see in the spiral arms of galaxies is a sequence of stars as governed by luminosity and temperature. This is also related to mass - the bigger they are, the brighter and hotter they are. Below is a more detailed illustration:

main sequence2

It is important too understand that the above illustration does NOT show the progression of a star through stages. These are different stars of different masses, showing different characteristics.

The standard model has no explanation for the shape of the main sequence curve. It simply is what it is. It cannot be deduced from nuclear physics or gravitational physics.

Changes in Star Characteristics: There are a number of stars, such as Sirius, which show changes in characteristics and color that occur far too rapidly for the millions of years that the standard model states must occur for these changes to happen as a result of the burning of nuclear fuel.

Sirius, for example. Today, Sirius is a blue-white star of the first magnitude. It is the brightest star in the night sky. An Assyrian text from 1070 BC describes it as "red as molten copper." In the 4th century BC, Eudoxus and Aratus both described Sirius as being red. In the first century BC, Cicero also described it as red. It was still red in 150 AD when Claudius Ptolemy described it: "the same color as Antares, Aldebaran, and Arcturus." In the 4th century AD, Avienus described it as "sea blue." In 625 AD, the Chinese records show it was white or blue. In the standard model, this change would take millions of years.

Betelgeuse is another example. Today it is an orange-red star. In the 3rd century BC, the Chinese described it as yellow. Astronomers in the Han Dynasty, about the time of Christ, described it as yellow. In the late second century AD, it was described as reddish by Arab astronomers. Again this change should have taken millions of years according to the standard model.

There are other less well-documented examples, as the other stars are not as bright as those two, but the fact that those two bright stars are not simply "anomalous," but examples of a real problem for the standard model needs to be noted.

Neutron stars and Pulsars: Neutron stars, the supposed remnants of supernova explosions, have never been seen. They are only inferred. What was found originally, in November of 1967, were precisely timed pulses picked up by radio telescopes. The source was labeled LGM1 (the "LGM," believe it or not, stood for "little green men" as they thought extra-terrestrials were sending messages). Since then, many other sources of rapid, precisely timed pulses have been found. Once the "little green men" idea was discarded, the idea was that objects out there were acting something like lighthouses, spinning rapidly and emitting a pulse of radiation with each revolution. A typical statement about this is that "due to their powerful magnetic fields, pulsars emit most of their radiation in tightly focused beams much like a lighthouse." (R. Anderson, "New Pulsar Clocks will Aid Gravitational Wave Detection," Universe Today, Jan. 5, 2010)

Since then it has been noted that many pulsar objects are in a binary system rotating around another object. Because of this rotation period, we can judge the mass of each object. It was found that these pulsating objects, or pulsars, were more massive than our sun, but had pulse rates less than one second.

If this was a rotating object, as described by Anderson, acting like a lighthouse, the only possible explanation was something extremely dense, held together gravitationally, which could rotate at extreme speeds and not disrupt. The only answer to this problem was a neutron star. Only a neutron star could be this dense. Combining these things with the known mass of the objects in the binary systems, the size of the neutron pulsars was only a little over six miles across. This suggestion was only generally accepted in 1982, when what are called "millisecond" pulsars were found. Flashes were occurring only thousandths of a second apart. So if these were rotating neutron stars, they were rotating at incredible speeds. In addition 80% of these millisecond pulsars have orbital companions.

Therein lie a series of problems.

  • neutron stars have never actually been seen, only inferred'
  • neutrons themselves are inherently unstable, having a half-life of about 12-14 minutes.
  • a cluster of neutrons is also unstable. When too many neutrons collect together in an atomic nucleus, the nucleus disrupts
  • only 46 pulsars have been associated with supernovas out of a study of over 230 supernovas and over 1300 pulsars
  • rotation speeds at the rate of the flashes measured are physically impossible for any matter we are aware of that we can see with the naked eye.

Due to the fact that even a neutron star would not be stable against disruption as such high speeds, some astronomers have suggested that, instead of being made up of neutrons, these stars are made up of "strange matter," which is proposed to be even denser than packed neutrons.

In summary, neutron stars or "strange matter" stars have only been supposed, and the idea that pulsars are objects spinning at the rate of 42,000 times a minute or even more is quite impossible.

Supernova Explosions: Astronomers have tried to model supernova explosions mathematically and on computers. They have been unsuccessful. They can get the star to collapse, but they cannot get a rebound and explosion. The formation of the neutron star, which is meant to be the remnant from the explosion, is also a problem.

What about Star Nurseries?

The gravitational model sees areas such as the "Pillars of Creation" in M16 (the Eagle Nebula) as the birthplace of stars.

pillars of creation

These areas are so dense in gas and dust that it is presumed gravity is forming stars inside them. What has been seen via infrared radiation is that there are already stars inside the pillars and they are blowing off the gas and the dust. In other words, the gas and the dust are moving away from the stars, not collapsing to form them. The shape of the pillars themselves indicates the stars are in a line, along a filament.

What we have found, in places like the Orion Nebula, are long filaments of plasma which have stars formed along them like beads on a string, where the plasma filament has pinched.

Orion filaments

This is only one of a number of examples which occur in many of the constellations.

The Plasma Model

As the Plasma Model page explains, plasma filaments fill the universe. They are inherently unstable, as we can see from lightning, which is a plasma filament. The forked appearance of lightning is due to the fact that almost any change in pressure or electrical field or temperature will disturb it. Plasma filaments in space react the same way. Because lightning is caused by a differential in electrical fields, it exists only momentarily in order to equalize those fields. Plasma filaments in space, however, are semi-permanent, existing for centuries and millennia. Like, lightning, they are easily disturbed and react to those disturbances. One of the reactions we see is called a "pinch" -- a Bennett Pinch, also called a "Z Pinch." When this happens, the material in the plasma condenses to a concentrated area and a star appears almost immediately. We can see this happening in space. Some very good examples are in the Bug Nebula (on the left) and the Ant Nebula (on the right).

bug nebula ant nebula

In both the above photographs, you can see the plasma filament itself as well as the pinch which produced the star.

Another excellent example is the "Wings of a Butterfly" nebula, below

Nebula M29

Standard astronomy says the 'jets' are produced by the star, but the star itself is produced by a pinch in the filament, which is clearly seen here.

When considering plasma activity, then, it becomes apparent that the formation of a star can occur very rapidly, in a matter or months or even days. Given the faster rate of processes at the beginning of time and the universe, the formation of stars would have been even faster, occuring in minutes or hours.

Orion infrared

Orion nebula in infrared. New (red) stars are forming along twisting  filaments . This tends to support a plasma origin.

Orion young stars

Spitzer 4-color infra-red image of young stars forming in Orion filaments

Contrary to the standard model, which takes millions of years for a new star to start shining, a star formed by a plasma pinch would shine immediately as the plasma goes into arc mode due to the concentration of the electric current in the plasma filament.

crux new stars

Part of  Crux – ESA report 2009: “An incredible network of filamentary structures – the interstellar material is condensing into continuous and interconnected filaments glowing from the light of newborn stars.”

star forming filaments

Part of Molecular Cloud IC 5146 with 27 star forming filaments about 1/3rd LY across (Herschel ST – 2011)

Due to Marklund Convection, stars will already be layered at the time of their formation. Marklund Convection gives the same sequence of elements as shown in the standard model above.

The Main Sequence in this model: The most important factor in determining a given star's characteristics is the strength of the current's density in amperes per square meter at the star's surface. The second is the size of the star. The higher the current density, the hotter, and hence bluer, the light will be.

main sequence2

Looking at the same illustration as above, the first region on the lower right is where the current density has such a low value that the plasma surrounding the star is not driven into the normal glow mode. This is a region where only dark current plasma surrounds these objects. This is the region of brown and red dwarfs.

As we move to the left, the current density increases. Only a slight increase in current density produces a large change in luminosity. So as the current density increases, so, too, does the luminosity. Since this is a more or less direct relationship, the slop of the graph is close to 45 degrees at this point.

At the upper left is the region of the brilliant blue giants with luminosities 100,000 times of our sun. These stars are under extreme electrical stress, with excessive current densities impinging on their surfaces. This extreme electrical stress can cause stars to explode or split.

Red giants are large stars with low current densities. White dwarfs are small stars with relatively high current density.

There is a problem with the plasma model at this point. It does explain the shape of the main sequence, which the standard model cannot. But it does not give reasons why the bluest stars are usually the most massive or why the smallest, least massive stars are red. In other words, why do we not have very small blue stars with high current densities? In other words, the plasma model has no reason why the mass of the star is related to its color.

There is a potential answer to this, but one which has not been thoroughly explored by plasma physicists: the largest stars are formed where there are high electric currents in large plasma filaments. This would produce more heat at the star goes into arc mode. Thus the star would be brighter, bluer, and more massive.

Pulsars: Since we do not believe there is any such thing as a neutron star, only pulsars, which have been seen, are part of this model. They are not rapidly spinning anything. They are stars which are emitting pulses of electromagnetic energy in rapid bursts. It is a key point that many of them appear to be associated with orbital companions.

There are five characteristics about these pulses:

  • The millisecond pulsars flash like a strobe light so that the duration of each pulse is much shorter than the time between the pulses. Given the time from the beginning of one pulse to the beginning of the next, only 5% of that time is taken up by the pulse itself and the other 95% is the 'rest' time between the pulses.
  • Some stars give off pulses that are quite variable in their intensity.
  • The pulses are polarized, meaning they are associated with strong magnetic fields; however magnetic fields are always produced by electric currents.
  • The pulses may not be coming from the stars themselves, but from regions closely associated with them.
  • The pulses are emanating from extremely narrow regions in these areas or on the stars.

These five points are inconsistent with a rotating lighthouse model. The alternate idea, that these stars or their surfaces, are pulsing in and out, to produce these signals, is also inconsistent with the data. Pulses of size cannot happen that fast.

Instead, Scott, Healy, and Peratt have shown that the characteristics enumerated above are consistent with electric arc lighting interaction between two components. This is why the fact that so many pulsars are associated with companion orbital objects is so important. Those object may be stars or planets, but what may be taking place between them is something like what we see with Jupiter and Io.

In other words, pulsars are probably the result of ongoing electrical interactions. There is a constant magnetic field around a central star, and then a second star or planet moves in this magnetic field at a constant rate. That movement builds up an electric charge on surface of the orbiting object, and the result is periodic discharges. Local characteristicss would be involved in those objects which give off variable pulses.

crab nubula

Above is the crab nebula. It is the result of a supernova explosion. However, at its core there is a pulsar.

crab pulsar

In the above photo of the crab pulsar area, several things should be noted:

  • There is a spinning disk around the core of this object
  • There are polar jets, highly reminiscent of quasars
  • There has been found a planetary companion to the central star

As discussed in the section on Galaxy cores, this shows strong evidence of a very strong electrical current, and not of any gravitational effects.