We Are Stardust

Robert L. Piccioni, Ph.D.

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In this book we will explore stars, their essential role in our universe, and their intimate connection to us.

We will discuss what stars are; how they are born; the delicate balance of their lives; their spectacular deaths that lay the foundations for rebirth; and how they enable the existence of all living creatures. We will explore how stars made the atoms in our bodies and why those atoms are jewels of our universe.

The cover suggests how the most violent events in our universe, the supernova explosion of a mammoth star, make possible the birth of the most precious creation, my granddaughter Josephine Kiara Piccioni. After 60 years of studying the universe, I finally discovered the true meaning of life: grandchildren. I take every opportunity to celebrate them.


In addition to enormous light output, stars also produce formidable stellar winds, streams of high-energy particles. Powerful stellar winds can blow away any nearby diffuse gas that hasn’t condensed into substantial bodies, including asteroids and planets. An example of this is seen in the Helix Nebula. Here, an energetic new star has cleared its surroundings. Loose gas has been blown away leaving only material that is sufficiently collapsed to be dense enough to withstand intense erosion.

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