The Lifecycle of Stars
How and where do stars form and die and how do their deaths impact the surrounding environment?
Throughout their lifetimes, stars transform the Universe’s simple elements into heavier elements and spread them throughout the cosmos through ‘supernova explosions’. These explosive deaths of massive stars are amongst the most energetic events in the Universe. Observing in the infrared part of the spectrum, Webb will be capable of peering through the dusty envelopes around newly born stars, and its superb sensitivity will allow astronomers to directly investigate the faint, earliest stages of starbirth, known as ‘protostellar cores’. Webb will study brown dwarfs: astronomical objects that are more massive than a planet but less massive than a star. Webb will determine how and why clouds of dust and gas collapse into stars, or become gas giant planets or brown dwarfs. Webb will also see the most massive stars explode as supernovae and leave behind more clouds of dust and gas, along with the precious heavy metals that enrich the cosmos to form new generations of stars.