It’s true, we are all made of stardust. But which stars have to die to make it? All the complex elements needed for life – like carbon, oxygen and iron – are made by stars as they die. But stars die in several different ways, making different elements.

This talk will explain how the different death throes of stars create different elements for life. In the last few years, scientists have discovered that rare elements such as gold and silver are formed in the events where stellar corpses collide, showing that even dead stars can enrich the Universe.

All life on Earth is linked to the Universe and by looking to the stars we can understand where we came from and how we came to be. 


Dr Jan Eldridge is an astrophysicist, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Physics in the Faculty of Science. She studies exploding binary stars (while exploding the myth that gender is also binary). Her main research interest is the lives and deaths of stars, especially binary stars – from those in our own Galaxy to those in galaxies at the edge of the observable Universe.

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Last updated: 13 July 2022