Are We Starstuff?

on April 10, 2017

Some universe-oriented exhibits may claim that “we are all starstuff.” That is, the elements that we are made of were produced inside stars that formed after the big bang.

However, there are many problems with the idea that stars formed from the big bang. Notice the conjecture in this frank admission by the editors of Astronomy magazine:

Astronomers don’t know for sure how the universe made its first stars, but they do have a reasonably good guess. (As you can imagine, there’s no way to observe the formation of the first generation of stars, so all the work is based upon theoretical considerations.) The best scenario has molecular hydrogen playing the role of the cooling agent. If the clouds from which stars formed were some four to five times denser in the early universe than they are today, then enough collisions between hydrogen atoms would have taken place to create a lot of molecular hydrogen. The big question is: Were the first galaxies that much denser? Obviously the overall density of the universe was much higher back in the early days, but no one knows whether the star-forming clouds were this much denser.

Most astronomers would say that the fact that stars do exist tells us that the density was higher back then, because otherwise there would be no stars … Nowadays, of course, nature has found a simpler, easier way to cool the clouds (with water), so that’s what she uses. (“Talking Back, Water, water (almost) everywhere,” Astronomy 27:6, 1999, p. 16)

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