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Stars and the Origin of the Elements

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Stars are the source of all elements heavier than and including carbon. To understand which stars yield which elements when we must first understand the structure and evolution of stars. Much of this understanding grew over the course of the twentieth century led by increasing better and systematic observation and subsequently by growing computational power. Elements up to the iron peak can be created during fusion reactions that power the stars themselves. In the twenty-first century we have begun to understand the details of multiple nuclear burning shells and mixing during the late stages of the lives of stars that lead to elements heavier than iron and distribute them through our Galaxy. I shall narrate the story of the lives of stars from birth to death and the role of each stage in the origin of the elements.

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This talk is part of the Cambridge University Astronomical Society (CUAS) series.

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