When most people think of death they do not usually consider the death of stars. However, astronomers do and from the passing of a star they hope to glean significant information about the nature of stars. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, C. S. Lewis’ Narnian tale of a journey to the edge of the world, Eustace views stars as a scientist would: “In our world,” said Eustace, “a star is a huge ball of flaming gas.” But, his companion Ramandu reminds him, “Even in your world, my son, that is not what a star is but only what it is made of.” (page 226)
I am reminded of Paul’s statement in Romans 8:19-22
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
We, like Eustace, learn ever more what stars are made of, but I would argue we still do not know what stars are. Some will say they are nothing but what they are made of, but I like Lewis’ vision better. It makes the heavens even more majestic than they already are.
The late stages of Nebula NGC 6543
You can download the full images from here.