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In the stars

ii_nebula_ms27_460w.jpg

"In one of the most sweeping discoveries of astrophysics", Geoffrey Burbidge and Margaret Peachey Burbidge, his wife, "helped to explain the origins of the elements in the stars".

Their now-classic 1957 paper, written with astronomer Fred Hoyle and astrophysicist William Fowler, is referred to as "B²HF," for its authors' initials. At the time, Burbidge, who has died at 84, was 32.

"The paper showed, in effect, that the elements composing everything from planets to life were forged inside earlier generations of stars."

And who or what created the stars and the Universe? Ah, that is the question.

Image: Centre section of Nebula Messier 27 by NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA: November 2001). Acknowledgment: C.R. O’Dell (Vanderbilt University).

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