Red Giant Revisited

By the prevailing standards of our stellar timeline, the equilibrium that results from helium core burning doesn't last long, only some tens of millions of years,

because fusion proceeds rapidly, as the star fiercely goes about fusing helium into carbon and some oxygen.

Now something very much like the process that created the first red giant phase is replayed, only with helium and carbon instead of hydrogen and helium. As helium is exhausted in the core of the star, the carbon ash settles and the core shrinks, releasing heat. This release of heat triggers helium-burning in one shell, which, in turn, is enveloped by a hydrogen-burning shell. The heat generated in these burning shells causes the star's outer layers to swell, and the star becomes a red giant once more. When stars revisit the red giant phase, they are generally bigger and more luminous than the first time.

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Telescopes Mastery

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