Pop culture has long romanticised the idea of us originating from 'stardust'. After all, math, science, history, unravelling the mystery, it all started with a Big Bang. But, are we really born out of stardust? Or is it just another urban legend?
Once upon a time, there lived a lovely human being. That human being was called ‘Star’. Star was entrusted with a tremendous personal mission to learn about the planet and explore the secrets the universe. Star always wondered, “Why are all of the questions about the universe significant? Why do other stars exist? What is dark matter? Do parallel universes exist?”
Star was wondering about all of these questions when it came across an article which made Star curious-
Are we all born of Stardust?
On opening the article, Star sat down, relaxed on the bed while eating, and let its mind go wild while reading it. Are you wondering who Star is? If you’ve made it so far, then congratulations!
You are the Star and this your story. But, to get your question -are we made of stardust- answered, read ahead.
You 100% Are a Product of the Beautiful Stardust!
Those images you see on the internet that show galaxies, stars and planets residing in you are accurate to a certain point. Although your body doesn’t have the galaxies and stars within it, it is made up of all of the elements present in theses heavenly bodies.
According to several scientists, our universe began with a ‘Big Bang’ about 13-14 billion years ago. Before that, only the lightest of elements like hydrogen, helium, and low quantities of lithium were present. After the Big Bang, the first generation of stars began manifesting as chunks of different gases types.
These gases gradually started to burn, and the resultant combustion caused a massive nuclear reaction in the stars’ core. These first-generation stars which were created from the reaction were vast and gigantic.
To put it into comparison, the stars were more than 50 times the size of our Sun. These first-gen stars exhausted most of their fuels quickly and thus only created a few denser elements than hydrogen and helium.
Once these first-gen stars got old, they went supernova– an astronomical event which humanity yearns to see (the next one will arrive in a few thousand years). The gases released from these supernovae gave birth to the subsequent generation of stars.
According to Dr Ashley King, a planetary researcher, “Inside the stars, a process occurs called nucleosynthesis, which is the making of elements. The larger the star, the faster the fuel burns”. Astronomers can reveal the temperature and age of the stars by observing the colours they twinkle with.
Younger stars burn in the blue shades and therefore hotter, while old stars burn in shades of orange and red and are much more relaxed than the younger stars. Our Sun is an ageing star, with a baggage of 4.603 billion years with it.
How Did We End Up With Stardust In Our Bodies?
The death of the first generation stars gave birth to the second generation of stars. Just like their parent stars, these stars went on to synthesise new heavier elements like beryllium, boron and carbon and then grew old and went supernova.
Imagine the universe at that time. All dark and no life with only supernovae happening to light up the all-encompassing darkness! Then the supernovae gave birth to the third generation and so on. Researchers speculate that any element in our body, which is denser and heavier than Iron, has gone through at least one supernova.
It means that most of the elements found in our bodies, apart from hydrogen, was formed in the core of stars billions of years ago. These elements are older than us and have gone through different periods and many star lifetimes.
However, there is also a very high probability that the minute amounts of lithium and hydrogen atoms have originated in our body from the Big Bang.
How Much of Our Body is Made Up of Stardust?
To answer this, you will first need to know some basic formulae and measures. Our body is composed of roughly 7×10 to the power of 27 atoms. Out of these myriads of particles, 4.2×10 to the power of 27 bits are of hydrogen. Now, as we previously mentioned that this hydrogen, which is roughly 9.5 per cent of your body’s composition, has directly come from the Big Bang.
So only 2.8×10 to the power of 27 atoms are made of elements other than hydrogen. This is the amount of stardust we have in our bodies. If 27 zeros seem like a massive number for your starry brain to comprehend with, then about 40 per cent of your body is made up of stardust.
And there you have it!
You are a tiny portion of the universe, expressing yourself in one of the rarest way possible and no one will ever be like you, ever! So the next time you look up and see the stars or even falling stars and want to make a wish of yours come true, wish for it and pat yourself on the back, cause darling, you are a star made up of stars!