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Beyond Earthly Skies

The Universe’s Last Stars

10 Feb 2013, 12:12 UTC
The Universe’s Last Stars
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At present, the universe is in the stelliferous era where conventional star formation is an ongoing process and nuclear fusion in stars account for most of the energy generation in the universe. However, star formation is not a perfectly efficient process and matter is continuously being lost due to incorporation into objects such as brown dwarfs, extremely long-lived red dwarfs and inert stellar remnants (white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes). As a result, the stelliferous era is expected to end when the universe is around 1014 years old, about 103 times its current age. The universe then enters the degenerate era which is expected to last until the universe is around 1037 years old. This is the era where most of the mass in the universe is in the form of brown dwarfs, white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes.Brown dwarfs are objects not massive enough to become stars as their masses are below the hydrogen-burning limit. During the degenerate era, non-conventional star formation remains a possibility through 2 methods. The 1st method is when two brown dwarfs collide and merge into an object with a mass above the hydrogen-burning limit. The 2nd method occurs when a brown dwarf ...

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