Can we observe the birth and death of stars from Earth, and if so, what will we see at the same time?


One of the readers sent us the following question:

Stars are born from giant gas and dust clouds, and they are born as whole families. In one cloud, almost simultaneously, by astronomical standards, thousands of stars can be born, such clouds in which stars are currently being formed are called regions of star formation.

These regions are not transparent for most of the radiation, therefore, we cannot observe the birth of stars in them in the optical range even with the help of telescopes, but we can observe the star formation region itself, illuminated by young stars located at the surface of the gas-dust cloud, as well as some stars in it. , which have already fully formed and dispersed the gas around them.

It is much easier to observe the death of stars, since by the end of their life they are no longer hidden from us by gas and dust clouds, and we can observe them in the optical range. What we see during the death of a star depends on the mass of this star, if the star has turned into a black hole, then it will quickly darken and disappear, if the star explodes into a supernova, then its brightness will be comparable to billions of stars.

What a person sees with the naked eye will depend on the distance to the supernova, it can be a small bright point if the supernova is far away, or it can see a glow comparable to the full moon and even brighter if the supernova is somewhere nearby.