A galaxy group or group of galaxies is an aggregation of galaxies comprising about 50 or fewer gravitationally bound members, each at least as luminous as the Milky Way. The groups and clusters of galaxies can themselves be clustered, into superclusters of galaxies; the Milky Way galaxy is part of a group of galaxies called the Local Group. Groups of galaxies are the smallest aggregates of galaxies, they contain no more than 50 galaxies in a diameter of 1 to 2 megaparsecs. Their mass is 1013 solar masses; the spread of velocities for the individual galaxies is about 150 km/s. However, this definition should be used as a guide only, as larger and more massive galaxy systems are sometimes classified as galaxy groups. Groups are the most common structures of galaxies in the universe, comprising at least 50% of the galaxies in the local universe. Groups have a mass range between those of the large elliptical galaxies and clusters of galaxies. In the local universe, about half of the groups exhibit diffuse X-ray emissions from their intracluster media.
Those that emit X-rays appear to have early-type galaxies as members. The diffuse X-ray emissions come from zones within the inner 10-50% of the groups' virial radius 50-500 kpc. There are several subtypes of groups. A compact group consists of a small number of galaxies around five, in close proximity and isolated from other galaxies and formations; the first compact group to be discovered was Stephan's Quintet, found in 1877. Stephan's Quintet is named for a compact group of four galaxies plus an unassociated foreground galaxy. Astronomer Paul Hickson created a catalogue of such groups in the Hickson Compact Groups. Compact groups of galaxies show the effect of dark matter, as the visible mass is less than that needed to gravitationally hold the galaxies together in a bound group. Compact galaxy groups are not dynamically stable over Hubble time, thus showing that galaxies evolve by merger, over the timescale of the age of the universe. Fossil galaxy groups, fossil groups, or fossil clusters are believed to be the end-result of galaxy merging within a normal galaxy group, leaving behind the X-ray halo of the progenitor group.
Galaxies within a group merge. The physical process behind this galaxy-galaxy merger is dynamical friction; the time-scales for dynamical friction on luminous galaxies suggest that fossil groups are old, undisturbed systems that have seen little infall of L* galaxies since their initial collapse. Fossil groups are thus an important laboratory for studying the formation and evolution of galaxies and the intragroup medium in an isolated system. Fossil groups may still contain unmerged dwarf galaxies, but the more massive members of the group have condensed into the central galaxy; the closest fossil group to the Milky Way is NGC 6482, an elliptical galaxy at a distance of 180 million light-years located in the constellation of Hercules. Proto-groups are groups, they are the smaller form of protoclusters. These contain galaxies and protogalaxies embedded in dark matter haloes that are in the process of fusing into group-formations of singular dark matter halos. Illustris project
Cosmic distance ladder
The cosmic distance ladder is the succession of methods by which astronomers determine the distances to celestial objects. A real direct distance measurement of an astronomical object is possible only for those objects that are "close enough" to Earth; the techniques for determining distances to more distant objects are all based on various measured correlations between methods that work at close distances and methods that work at larger distances. Several methods rely on a standard candle, an astronomical object that has a known luminosity; the ladder analogy arises because no single technique can measure distances at all ranges encountered in astronomy. Instead, one method can be used to measure nearby distances, a second can be used to measure nearby to intermediate distances, so on; each rung of the ladder provides information that can be used to determine the distances at the next higher rung. At the base of the ladder are fundamental distance measurements, in which distances are determined directly, with no physical assumptions about the nature of the object in question.
The precise measurement of stellar positions is part of the discipline of astrometry. Direct distance measurements are based upon the astronomical unit, the distance between the Earth and the Sun. Kepler's laws provide precise ratios of the sizes of the orbits of objects orbiting the Sun, but provides no measurement of the overall scale of the orbit system. Radar is used to measure the distance of a second body. From that measurement and the ratio of the two orbit sizes, the size of Earth's orbit is calculated; the Earth's orbit is known with an absolute precision of a few meters and a relative precision of a few 1×10−11. Observations of transits of Venus were crucial in determining the AU. Presently the orbit of Earth is determined with high precision using radar measurements of distances to Venus and other nearby planets and asteroids, by tracking interplanetary spacecraft in their orbits around the Sun through the Solar System; the most important fundamental distance measurements come from trigonometric parallax.
As the Earth orbits the Sun, the position of nearby stars will appear to shift against the more distant background. These shifts are angles in an isosceles triangle, with 2 AU making the base leg of the triangle and the distance to the star being the long equal length legs; the amount of shift is quite small, measuring 1 arcsecond for an object at 1 parsec's distance of the nearest stars, thereafter decreasing in angular amount as the distance increases. Astronomers express distances in units of parsecs; because parallax becomes smaller for a greater stellar distance, useful distances can be measured only for stars which are near enough to have a parallax larger than a few times the precision of the measurement. Parallax measurements have an accuracy measured in milliarcseconds. In the 1990s, for example, the Hipparcos mission obtained parallaxes for over a hundred thousand stars with a precision of about a milliarcsecond, providing useful distances for stars out to a few hundred parsecs; the Hubble telescope WFC3 now has the potential to provide a precision of 20 to 40 microarcseconds, enabling reliable distance measurements up to 5,000 parsecs for small numbers of stars.
In 2018, Data Release 2 from the Gaia space mission provides accurate distances to most stars brighter than 15th magnitude. Stars have a velocity relative to the Sun that causes radial velocity; the former is determined by plotting the changing position of the stars over many years, while the latter comes from measuring the Doppler shift of the star's spectrum caused by motion along the line of sight. For a group of stars with the same spectral class and a similar magnitude range, a mean parallax can be derived from statistical analysis of the proper motions relative to their radial velocities; this statistical parallax method is useful for measuring the distances of bright stars beyond 50 parsecs and giant variable stars, including Cepheids and the RR Lyrae variables. The motion of the Sun through space provides a longer baseline that will increase the accuracy of parallax measurements, known as secular parallax. For stars in the Milky Way disk, this corresponds to a mean baseline of 4 AU per year, while for halo stars the baseline is 40 AU per year.
After several decades, the baseline can be orders of magnitude greater than the Earth–Sun baseline used for traditional parallax. However, secular parallax introduces a higher level of uncertainty because the relative velocity of observed stars is an additional unknown; when applied to samples of multiple stars, the uncertainty can be reduced. Moving cluster parallax is a technique where the motions of individual stars in a nearby star cluster can be used to find the distance to the cluster. Only open clusters are near enough for this technique to be useful. In particular the distance obtained for the Hyades has been an important step in the distance ladder. Other individual objects can have fundamental distance estimates made for them under special circumstances. If the expansion of a gas cloud, like a supernova remnant or planetary nebula, can be observed over time an expansion parallax distance to that cloud can be estimated; those measurements however suf
Barred spiral galaxy
A barred spiral galaxy is a spiral galaxy with a central bar-shaped structure composed of stars. Bars are found in two thirds of all spiral galaxies. Bars affect both the motions of stars and interstellar gas within spiral galaxies and can affect spiral arms as well; the Milky Way Galaxy, where our own Solar System is located, is classified as a barred spiral galaxy. Edwin Hubble classified spiral galaxies of this type as "SB" in his Hubble sequence and arranged them into sub-categories based on how open the arms of the spiral are. SBa types feature bound arms, while SBc types are at the other extreme and have loosely bound arms. SBb-type galaxies lie in between the two. SB0 is a barred lenticular galaxy. A new type, SBm, was subsequently created to describe somewhat irregular barred spirals, such as the Magellanic Clouds, which were once classified as irregular galaxies, but have since been found to contain barred spiral structures. Among other types in Hubble's classifications for the galaxies are the spiral galaxy, elliptical galaxy and irregular galaxy.
Barred galaxies are predominant, with surveys showing that up to two-thirds of all spiral galaxies contain a bar. The current hypothesis is that the bar structure acts as a type of stellar nursery, fueling star birth at their centers; the bar is thought to act as a mechanism that channels gas inwards from the spiral arms through orbital resonance, in effect funneling the flow to create new stars. This process is thought to explain why many barred spiral galaxies have active galactic nuclei, such as that seen in the Southern Pinwheel Galaxy; the creation of the bar is thought to be the result of a density wave radiating from the center of the galaxy whose effects reshape the orbits of the inner stars. This effect builds over time to stars orbiting further out, which creates a self-perpetuating bar structure. Bars are thought to be temporary phenomena in the lives of spiral galaxies. Past a certain size the accumulated mass of the bar compromises the stability of the overall bar structure. Barred spiral galaxies with high mass accumulated in their center tend to have stubby bars.
Since so many spiral galaxies have bar structures, it is that they are recurring phenomena in spiral galaxy development. The oscillating evolutionary cycle from spiral galaxy to barred spiral galaxy is thought to take on the average about two billion years. Recent studies have confirmed the idea that bars are a sign of galaxies reaching full maturity as the "formative years" end. A 2008 investigation found that only 20 percent of the spiral galaxies in the distant past possessed bars, compared with about 65 percent of their local counterparts; the general classification is "SB". The sub-categories are based on how tight the arms of the spiral are. SBa types feature bound arms. SBc types are at the other extreme. SBb galaxies lie in between. SBm describes somewhat irregular barred spirals. SB0 is a barred lenticular galaxy. Galaxy morphological classification Galaxy formation and evolution Lenticular galaxy Firehose instability Britt, Robert Roy. "Milky Way’s Central Structure Seen with Fresh Clarity."
SPACE.com 16 August 2005. An article about the Spitzer Space Telescope's Milky Way discovery Devitt, Terry. "Galactic survey reveals a new look for the Milky Way." 16 August 2005. The original press release regarding the article above, from the Univ. of Wisconsin'Barred' Spiral Galaxy Pic Highlights Stellar Birth." SPACE.com 2 March 2001. Hastings and Jane Hastings. Classifying Galaxies: Barred Spirals, 1995. "Astronomers Find Multiple Generations of Star Formation in Central Starburst Ring of a Barred Spiral Galaxy." January 15, 2000. A press release concerning NGC 1326 Barred spirals come and go Sky & Telescope April 2002. "ESO Provides An Infrared Portrait of the Barred Spiral Galaxy Messier 83." November 29, 2001. A press release from the European Southern Observatory. Horton, Adam. "Spitzer NGC 1291 barred spiral galaxy seen in infrared." 22 October 2014
The kilometre, or kilometer is a unit of length in the metric system, equal to one thousand metres. It is now the measurement unit used for expressing distances between geographical places on land in most of the world. K is used in some English-speaking countries as an alternative for the word kilometre in colloquial writing and speech. A slang term for the kilometre in the US and UK military is klick. There are two common pronunciations for the word; the former follows a pattern in English whereby metric units are pronounced with the stress on the first syllable and the pronunciation of the actual base unit does not change irrespective of the prefix. It is preferred by the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Many scientists and other users in countries where the metric system is not used, use the pronunciation with stress on the second syllable; the latter pronunciation follows the stress pattern used for the names of measuring instruments. The problem with this reasoning, however, is that the word meter in those usages refers to a measuring device, not a unit of length.
The contrast is more obvious in countries using the British rather than American spelling of the word metre. When Australia introduced the metric system in 1975, the first pronunciation was declared official by the government's Metric Conversion Board. However, the Australian prime minister at the time, Gough Whitlam, insisted that the second pronunciation was the correct one because of the Greek origins of the two parts of the word. By the 8 May 1790 decree, the Constituent assembly ordered the French Academy of Sciences to develop a new measurement system. In August 1793, the French National Convention decreed the metre as the sole length measurement system in the French Republic; the first name of the kilometre was "Millaire". Although the metre was formally defined in 1799, the myriametre was preferred to the "kilometre" for everyday use; the term "myriamètre" appeared a number of times in the text of Develey's book Physique d'Emile: ou, Principes de la science de la nature, while the term kilometre only appeared in an appendix.
French maps published in 1835 had scales showing myriametres and "lieues de Poste". The Dutch gave it the local name of the mijl, it was only in 1867 that the term "kilometer" became the only official unit of measure in the Netherlands to represent 1000 metres. Two German textbooks dated 1842 and 1848 give a snapshot of the use of the kilometre across Europe - the kilometre was in use in the Netherlands and in Italy and the myriametre was in use in France. In 1935, the International Committee for Weights and Measures abolished the prefix "myria-" and with it the "myriametre", leaving the kilometre as the recognised unit of length for measurements of that magnitude. In the United Kingdom, road signs show distances in miles and location marker posts that are used for reference purposes by road engineers and emergency services show distance references in unspecified units which are kilometre-based; the advent of the mobile phone has been instrumental in the British Department for Transport authorising the use of driver location signs to convey the distance reference information of location marker posts to road users should they need to contact the emergency services.
In the US, the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 prohibits the use of federal-aid highway funds to convert existing signs or purchase new signs with metric units. The Executive Director of the US Federal Highway Administration, Jeffrey Paniati, wrote in a 2008 memo: "Section 205 of the National Highway System Designation Act of 1995 prohibited us from requiring any State DOT to use the metric system during project development activities. Although the State DOT's had the option of using metric measurements or dual units, all of them abandoned metric measurements and reverted to sole use of inch-pound values." The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices since 2000 is published in both metric and American Customary Units. Some sporting disciplines feature 1000 m races in major events, but in other disciplines though world records are catalogued, the one kilometre event remains a minority event; the world records for various sporting disciplines are: Conversion of units, for comparison with other units of length Cubic metre Metric prefix Mileage Odometer Orders of magnitude Square kilometre Media related to Distance indicators at Wikimedia Commons
A constellation is a group of stars that forms an imaginary outline or pattern on the celestial sphere representing an animal, mythological person or creature, a god, or an inanimate object. The origins of the earliest constellations go back to prehistory. People used them to relate stories of their beliefs, creation, or mythology. Different cultures and countries adopted their own constellations, some of which lasted into the early 20th century before today's constellations were internationally recognized. Adoption of constellations has changed over time. Many have changed in shape; some became popular. Others were limited to single nations; the 48 traditional Western constellations are Greek. They are given in Aratus' work Phenomena and Ptolemy's Almagest, though their origin predates these works by several centuries. Constellations in the far southern sky were added from the 15th century until the mid-18th century when European explorers began traveling to the Southern Hemisphere. Twelve ancient constellations belong to the zodiac.
The origins of the zodiac remain uncertain. In 1928, the International Astronomical Union formally accepted 88 modern constellations, with contiguous boundaries that together cover the entire celestial sphere. Any given point in a celestial coordinate system lies in one of the modern constellations; some astronomical naming systems include the constellation where a given celestial object is found to convey its approximate location in the sky. The Flamsteed designation of a star, for example, consists of a number and the genitive form of the constellation name. Other star patterns or groups called asterisms are not constellations per se but are used by observers to navigate the night sky. Examples of bright asterisms include the Pleiades and Hyades within the constellation Taurus or Venus' Mirror in the constellation of Orion.. Some asterisms, like the False Cross, are split between two constellations; the word "constellation" comes from the Late Latin term cōnstellātiō, which can be translated as "set of stars".
The Ancient Greek word for constellation is ἄστρον. A more modern astronomical sense of the term "constellation" is as a recognisable pattern of stars whose appearance is associated with mythological characters or creatures, or earthbound animals, or objects, it can specifically denote the recognized 88 named constellations used today. Colloquial usage does not draw a sharp distinction between "constellations" and smaller "asterisms", yet the modern accepted astronomical constellations employ such a distinction. E.g. the Pleiades and the Hyades are both asterisms, each lies within the boundaries of the constellation of Taurus. Another example is the northern asterism known as the Big Dipper or the Plough, composed of the seven brightest stars within the area of the IAU-defined constellation of Ursa Major; the southern False Cross asterism includes portions of the constellations Carina and Vela and the Summer Triangle.. A constellation, viewed from a particular latitude on Earth, that never sets below the horizon is termed circumpolar.
From the North Pole or South Pole, all constellations south or north of the celestial equator are circumpolar. Depending on the definition, equatorial constellations may include those that lie between declinations 45° north and 45° south, or those that pass through the declination range of the ecliptic or zodiac ranging between 23½° north, the celestial equator, 23½° south. Although stars in constellations appear near each other in the sky, they lie at a variety of distances away from the Earth. Since stars have their own independent motions, all constellations will change over time. After tens to hundreds of thousands of years, familiar outlines will become unrecognizable. Astronomers can predict the past or future constellation outlines by measuring individual stars' common proper motions or cpm by accurate astrometry and their radial velocities by astronomical spectroscopy; the earliest evidence for the humankind's identification of constellations comes from Mesopotamian inscribed stones and clay writing tablets that date back to 3000 BC.
It seems that the bulk of the Mesopotamian constellations were created within a short interval from around 1300 to 1000 BC. Mesopotamian constellations appeared in many of the classical Greek constellations; the oldest Babylonian star catalogues of stars and constellations date back to the beginning in the Middle Bronze Age, most notably the Three Stars Each texts and the MUL. APIN, an expanded and revised version based on more accurate observation from around 1000 BC. However, the numerous Sumerian names in these catalogues suggest that they built on older, but otherwise unattested, Sumerian traditions of the Early Bronze Age; the classical Zodiac is a revision of Neo-Babylonian constellations from the 6th century BC. The Greeks adopted the Babylonian constellations in the 4th century BC. Twenty Ptolemaic constellations are from the Ancient Near East. Another ten have the same stars but different names. Biblical scholar, E. W. Bullinger interpreted some of the creatures mentioned in the books of Ezekiel and Revelation as the middle signs of the four quarters of the Zodiac, with the Lion as Leo, the Bull as Taurus, the Man representing Aquarius and the Eagle standing in for Scorpio.
The biblical Book of Job also
The apparent magnitude of an astronomical object is a number, a measure of its brightness as seen by an observer on Earth. The magnitude scale is logarithmic. A difference of 1 in magnitude corresponds to a change in brightness by a factor of 5√100, or about 2.512. The brighter an object appears, the lower its magnitude value, with the brightest astronomical objects having negative apparent magnitudes: for example Sirius at −1.46. The measurement of apparent magnitudes or brightnesses of celestial objects is known as photometry. Apparent magnitudes are used to quantify the brightness of sources at ultraviolet and infrared wavelengths. An apparent magnitude is measured in a specific passband corresponding to some photometric system such as the UBV system. In standard astronomical notation, an apparent magnitude in the V filter band would be denoted either as mV or simply as V, as in "mV = 15" or "V = 15" to describe a 15th-magnitude object; the scale used to indicate magnitude originates in the Hellenistic practice of dividing stars visible to the naked eye into six magnitudes.
The brightest stars in the night sky were said to be of first magnitude, whereas the faintest were of sixth magnitude, the limit of human visual perception. Each grade of magnitude was considered twice the brightness of the following grade, although that ratio was subjective as no photodetectors existed; this rather crude scale for the brightness of stars was popularized by Ptolemy in his Almagest and is believed to have originated with Hipparchus. In 1856, Norman Robert Pogson formalized the system by defining a first magnitude star as a star, 100 times as bright as a sixth-magnitude star, thereby establishing the logarithmic scale still in use today; this implies that a star of magnitude m is about 2.512 times as bright as a star of magnitude m + 1. This figure, the fifth root of 100, became known as Pogson's Ratio; the zero point of Pogson's scale was defined by assigning Polaris a magnitude of 2. Astronomers discovered that Polaris is variable, so they switched to Vega as the standard reference star, assigning the brightness of Vega as the definition of zero magnitude at any specified wavelength.
Apart from small corrections, the brightness of Vega still serves as the definition of zero magnitude for visible and near infrared wavelengths, where its spectral energy distribution approximates that of a black body for a temperature of 11000 K. However, with the advent of infrared astronomy it was revealed that Vega's radiation includes an Infrared excess due to a circumstellar disk consisting of dust at warm temperatures. At shorter wavelengths, there is negligible emission from dust at these temperatures. However, in order to properly extend the magnitude scale further into the infrared, this peculiarity of Vega should not affect the definition of the magnitude scale. Therefore, the magnitude scale was extrapolated to all wavelengths on the basis of the black-body radiation curve for an ideal stellar surface at 11000 K uncontaminated by circumstellar radiation. On this basis the spectral irradiance for the zero magnitude point, as a function of wavelength, can be computed. Small deviations are specified between systems using measurement apparatuses developed independently so that data obtained by different astronomers can be properly compared, but of greater practical importance is the definition of magnitude not at a single wavelength but applying to the response of standard spectral filters used in photometry over various wavelength bands.
With the modern magnitude systems, brightness over a wide range is specified according to the logarithmic definition detailed below, using this zero reference. In practice such apparent magnitudes do not exceed 30; the brightness of Vega is exceeded by four stars in the night sky at visible wavelengths as well as the bright planets Venus and Jupiter, these must be described by negative magnitudes. For example, the brightest star of the celestial sphere, has an apparent magnitude of −1.4 in the visible. Negative magnitudes for other bright astronomical objects can be found in the table below. Astronomers have developed other photometric zeropoint systems as alternatives to the Vega system; the most used is the AB magnitude system, in which photometric zeropoints are based on a hypothetical reference spectrum having constant flux per unit frequency interval, rather than using a stellar spectrum or blackbody curve as the reference. The AB magnitude zeropoint is defined such that an object's AB and Vega-based magnitudes will be equal in the V filter band.
As the amount of light received by a telescope is reduced by transmission through the Earth's atmosphere, any measurement of apparent magnitude is corrected for what it would have been as seen from above the atmosphere. The dimmer an object appears, the higher the numerical value given to its apparent magnitude, with a difference of 5 magnitudes corresponding to a brightness factor of 100. Therefore, the apparent magnitude m, in the spectral band x, would be given by m x = − 5 log 100 , more expressed in terms of common logarithms as m x
Type II supernova
A Type II supernova results from the rapid collapse and violent explosion of a massive star. A star must have at least 8 times, but no more than 40 to 50 times, the mass of the Sun to undergo this type of explosion. Type II supernovae are distinguished from other types of supernovae by the presence of hydrogen in their spectra, they are observed in the spiral arms of galaxies and in H II regions, but not in elliptical galaxies. Stars generate energy by the nuclear fusion of elements. Unlike the Sun, massive stars possess the mass needed to fuse elements that have an atomic mass greater than hydrogen and helium, albeit at higher temperatures and pressures, causing shorter stellar life spans; the degeneracy pressure of electrons and the energy generated by these fusion reactions are sufficient to counter the force of gravity and prevent the star from collapsing, maintaining stellar equilibrium. The star fuses higher mass elements, starting with hydrogen and helium, progressing up through the periodic table until a core of iron and nickel is produced.
Fusion of iron or nickel produces no net energy output, so no further fusion can take place, leaving the nickel–iron core inert. Due to the lack of energy output creating outward thermal pressure, the core contracts due to gravity until the overlying weight of the star can be supported by electron degeneracy pressure; when the compacted mass of the inert core exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit of about 1.4 M☉, electron degeneracy is no longer sufficient to counter the gravitational compression. A cataclysmic implosion of the core takes place within seconds. Without the support of the now-imploded inner core, the outer core collapses inwards under gravity and reaches a velocity of up to 23% of the speed of light and the sudden compression increases the temperature of the inner core to up to 100 billion kelvins. Neutrons and neutrinos are formed via reversed beta-decay, releasing about 1046 joules in a ten-second burst; the collapse of the inner core is halted by neutron degeneracy, causing the implosion to rebound and bounce outward.
The energy of this expanding shock wave is sufficient to disrupt the overlying stellar material and accelerate it to escape velocity, forming a supernova explosion. The shock wave and high temperature and pressure dissipate but are present for long enough to allow for a brief period during which the production of elements heavier than iron occurs. Depending on initial size of the star, the remnants of the core form a black hole; because of the underlying mechanism, the resulting supernova is described as a core-collapse supernova. There exist several categories of Type II supernova explosions, which are categorized based on the resulting light curve—a graph of luminosity versus time—following the explosion. Type II-L supernovae show a steady decline of the light curve following the explosion, whereas Type II-P display a period of slower decline in their light curve followed by a normal decay. Type Ib and Ic supernovae are a type of core-collapse supernova for a massive star that has shed its outer envelope of hydrogen and helium.
As a result, they appear to be lacking in these elements. Stars far more massive than the sun evolve in more complex ways. In the core of the star, hydrogen is fused into helium, releasing thermal energy that heats the sun's core and provides outward pressure that supports the sun's layers against collapse in a process known as stellar or hydrostatic equilibrium; the helium produced in the core accumulates there since temperatures in the core are not yet high enough to cause it to fuse. As the hydrogen at the core is exhausted, fusion starts to slow down, gravity causes the core to contract; this contraction raises the temperature high enough to initiate a shorter phase of helium fusion, which accounts for less than 10% of the star's total lifetime. In stars with fewer than eight solar masses, the carbon produced by helium fusion does not fuse, the star cools to become a white dwarf. White dwarf stars, if they have a near companion, may become Type Ia supernovae. A much larger star, however, is massive enough to create temperatures and pressures needed to cause the carbon in the core to begin to fuse when the star contracts at the end of the helium-burning stage.
The cores of these massive stars become layered like onions as progressively heavier atomic nuclei build up at the center, with an outermost layer of hydrogen gas, surrounding a layer of hydrogen fusing into helium, surrounding a layer of helium fusing into carbon via the triple-alpha process, surrounding layers that fuse to progressively heavier elements. As a star this massive evolves, it undergoes repeated stages where fusion in the core stops, the core collapses until the pressure and temperature are sufficient to begin the next stage of fusion, reigniting to halt collapse; the factor limiting this process is the amount of energy, released through fusion, dependent on the binding energy that holds together these atomic nuclei. Each additional step produces progressively heavier nuclei, which release progressively less energy when fusing. In addition, from carbon-burning onwards, energy loss via neutrino production becomes significant, leading to a higher rate of reaction than would otherwise take place.
This continues until nickel-56 is produced, which decays radioactively into cobalt-56 and iron-56 over the course of a few months. As iron and nickel have the highest binding energy per nucleon of all the elements, energy cannot be produced at the core by fusion, a nickel-iron core grows; this core is under huge gravitational pressure. As there is no fusion to further raise the s