New View of Solar Evolution


Aims:  The objective is to show that the three basic types of stars, Red Dwarfs, Main Sequence, and Blue Giants, are actually associated with three successive phases in the solar evolutionary process.  The hypothesis then is that each of these star types represents one phase of the entire process, and what is seen are three successive solar systems as the evolutionary journey of one solar entity.

Methods:  Through a discussion involving the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, with its ability to portray a broad perspective concerning large populations of stars, we have a classic approach to the subject of solar evolution.  Once the defining characteristics of  the three types of stars are brought into focus, the case is made for a three phase development of one solar entity.  It becomes apparent that the nature of the three phases reflects a growth and maturing process that we recognize as characteristic of all life forms.  Finally the subject of life forms is opened because this is a key issue.  Through our own word usage in the literature stars are life forms.  As for the science, science is built by hypothesis for those who remain unconvinced.

Results:  What has been postulated presents a new view of the universe.  What had seemed like and endless collection of stars of all kinds now becomes the same endless collection of stars, each seen at some stage of their evolutionary journey, and now all with a common evolutionary plan.  This may be still further defined by continuing threads of reasoning that follow from the original hypothesis.

Key words:  Cosmology, evolution, H-R diagram, Red Dwarf.

A Technical Baseline:  Let us pause for a moment to formulate some of the background information that has been previously accepted as fact in matters concerning stars.  This will help to focus on points that should be in mind as we pursue the subject of solar evolution.  While this might seem superfluous it does seem like today that some basic concepts concerning stars are increasingly subject to change.  There is so much new material in the field,together with new theoretical approaches , that the basics in existence through the last century are being obscured.

1.  All stars are created out of material that is the dust and gasses of intersteller space.  They are formed as three basic types.  These are the numerous Red Dwarfs, the Main Sequence stars, and the relative few Blue Giants.  Only a loose relationship between these stars is implied through the H-R Diagram.

2.  Massive stars, Blue Giants, having having a solar mass of 5 or above are the source of all heavy elements (above Helium) found in the universe.  This is by way of the CNO process in which Helium is processed through fusion into first Carbon, then Nitrogen and Oxygen.  This process only becomes active in larger stars that can support the necessary higher temperatures and core conditions.  The end of life for a Blue Giant is a supernova, and what we have then is a continuing source of intersteller dust as well as unused Hydrogen and Helium.

3.  The life span of Red Dwarfs will vary inversely with mass, so life span estimates vary widely from 100 billion years to 1 trillion or more.  It is important to recognize that the spectra of Red Dwarfs indicate heavy metal presence just as with Main Sequence stars.  Essentially the same building material is present in all star formation with some variations in composition, depending upon location during the formation.

H-R Diagram:  At the beginning of the 20th century, two astronomers, Ejnar Hertzsprung in Denmark, and Henry Russell in America were working independently to catalog types of stars.  The objective was to determine numbers as well as the spectral class of stars, and the eventual product of this work became the H-R Diagram.  This is a plot showing magnitude or luminosity vs temperature, and the “diagram” then becomes a plot (as points) of a large number of stars against these parameters.

 H-R Diagram

There are several variations of the diagram, but they show Red Dwarfs in the lower right sector while the Blue Giants are located in the upper left sector.  A third grouping, the Main Sequence, are found as a band across the middle connecting the first two groups. So, while there are some exceptions, it became evident that all stars belonged to one of these three basic types.  There are others such as Red Giants that fall broadly across the upper and right portion of the diagram while White Dwarfs are found in a trace across the bottom.  These latter two represent phases of Main Sequence stellar life.

1.  Red Dwarfs range from about 0.08 to 0.50 solar mass.  These are very numerous, typically faint, and constitute 80 – 90% of all stars.  They are of spectral types K and M.  The perception is that these small, low temperature stars have a very long life because they process their limited quantity of Hydrogen very slowly.  Once the supply of Hydrogen declines substantially they slowly die as the Hydrogen fusion process shuts down.

2.  Main Sequence stars such as our own Sun are found with solar masses of 0.5 to 5.0, and represent almost 10% of the total star population.  They are a spectral type F or G.  The perception is that these stars go through most of their life, and then enter a new phase involving a large expansion, thus becoming a Red Giant.  This phase commences with the onset of a helium fusion process that will eventually destroy the star.  When this phase is concluded there is only a White Dwarf left.

3.  Blue Giants range in solar mass from 5 to over 100, and these constitute less than 1% of the total star population.  They are of spectral types O, B or A, and they lead short, intense lives.  At the end of life they self-destruct in a massive explosion, a supernova.  The residual product is a Neutron Star.

There are other stars that are given a variety of names such as the Wolf-Rayet or the RR Lyrae variable stars.  They are still one of the basic types, but otherwise exhibit some difference (such as losing mass) that causes them to be separated out into their own class.  As for Neutron stars, they do appear to merge with others of their kind, but they, as well as the White Dwarfs represent an end state of one of the three basic types.

The Solar Evolutionary Process:  The theory of stellar evolution is a matter contemplated in modern times since the middle 1700’s by Kant and LaPlace.  The theory involved first, a cloud of interstellar matter that through gravitational contraction, combined with rotation, formed the nebula like disc.  This in time became the protostar and planetary system.  In more modern times this basic concept has remained in place, but has developed new elaborating interpretations.

One of the outcomes in the consideration of star formation is the posing of several questions.  Why do we have three basic types, and is their any relationship between those types?  Why do we have such a preponderance of one particular type, the Red Dwarf?  Also, do any of the basic types ever change into another type?  These are not simply idle questions, they deserve answers.

So, some researchers have postulated transition models that allow stars of one type to morph into another type.  This presents an evolutionary process where stars of all types slowly change from one type into another.  The difficulty of that happening involves a substantial increase in solar mass.  We live in a galaxy in which the most prevalent type, the Red Dwarf represents some 70% of all stars within a 10 parsec distance, and up to 90% of the larger population.  In order for this Red Dwarf to become an Main Sequence star would require an average five-fold increase in mass.  Further, a Main Sequence star would have to sustain an average five-fold increase to become a Blue Giant.  So it would even require multiple mergers to achieve such changes.

Clearly, this is not a real possibility, and I see no indication in the literature that anyone believes anything like this is happening on such a necessarily large scale.  So, it would seem that such a possibility may be disregarded.

A fresh look at the nature of the three types is suggestive of a developing or maturing process in which the succeeding star would show an increase in size (mass) and luminosity.  So, since we cannot realistically justify a physical transition from Red Dwarf to Main Sequence, we must pose an alternate path.  We would pursue this path on the basis that the three types do have a seeming relationship, and we could project the formation of three successive solar systems, each characterized by one of the three types of stars, and representing succeeding chapters in the life of one solar entity.

So, with these three rather disparate types of stars, we would now have a different evolutionary process, one that is going through stages of development that are representative of the growth process we normally associate with a single life form.  Each of the three system types differs radically from the others so each will embody a rather different phase of the associated life process.

The Life Form:  In order to conclusively link these three systems we would pose some point of commonality – is it a life form?  A star as a life form could be rather controversial.  It would be a totally different type of life, one having no familiar connection to life as we know it.  To examine the matter further, what can we say of a star that is true of what we consider is typical of a life form?

1.  Stars appear universally reproducible.  There appears to be an established process that starts matters into motion.  Stars do not exhibit a birth process that is familiar to us, yet we speak of it as birth.  They come in three basic types, and each type is described by a largely common set of characteristics.  The concept of a birth process is obscure, however, until one can associate the process with a life form.

2.  All examples of living things we are familiar with exhibit a life cycle in terms we can relate to, birth, development, aging, and death.  While these are also familiar expressions in astronomy the exact correspondence is often obscure, the reality of the process is not.

3.  They are built out of the matter of their world just as we are built out of ours.

Then, if we can grant all this much as characteristic of life forms, do we have any basis of denying stars a consciousness as well, whatever that might be?

The Life Process:  Once we can relate the three types of stars as physical reflections of a hidden evolutionary process, we open up investigation of the process itself because a relationship between the types of stars is recognized.  It should also be apparent that solar evolution is one subject while planetary evolution, and human evolution, life process that we know, are something else.  We can see evidence of a part of that life process in the fossil record present on our Earth, yet there is much of this process still to unfold.  Despite the incomplete picture, we could project the nature of the physical plane life process for the three systems to look something like this:

1.  In the first solar system, the Red Dwarf type, development of the life process is a long drawn out affair involving mostly mineral, plant, and animal kingdom activity because it is starting from nothing, there is no prior record.  The point of completion of this system is probably the advent of man.

2.  The second system, like the one we live in, is able to draw upon the achievement of the earlier system.  So, while it still starts from the beginning it is able to retrace steps quickly, and to expand upon the accomplishments of the first system.  It then might continue to what might be presumed to be the major achievement of the second system, the perfection of man.

3.  The third system would appear to be very advanced, and we would not likely find much we could relate to.  Certainly the life span of such a system would not be sufficient to cary through the evolutionary life process characteristic of a Main Sequence star system nor certainly a Red Dwarf.  We might also reflect on the increasingly apparent relation of star longevity to star population.

As for evidence of the evolutionary process itself, the fossil record that has been uncovered over time has been the subject of a vast amount of scientific research.  It basically starts very simply.  It begins with the mineral kingdom going through various transitions from archean to metamorphic to sedimentary rocks.  At some point it begins the overlapping development of the plant kingdom from algae to plants to trees, etc.  At some further point there is concurrent development of bacteria, then insect and animal life with all its complexities.  Finally there are higher animals, primates and man.

So, for a planetary world, once the lower kingdom has achieved some progress, work begins on the kingdom above.  It is a process that seems to have a natural rhythm and progression, as though it is in the nature of the way things work.  At some point the process seems to become hardwired, which might occur after that development has been completed once in the system.  Certainly we find that stars in the Main Sequence typically have lives that may be only one-tenth that of a Red Dwarf system.  Unless we could expect an accelerated evolutionary process that would take place within the new time constraint there would be a problem.  Similarly, with a Blue Giant, where life expectancy is in the order of one-tenth that of a main sequence star, the evolutionary process must differ radically.

Discussion:  The concept of three successive solar systems, each representing a stage in the evolutionary journey of a solar entity having a life process beyond our comprehension, is not really a new, novel concept.  It can be found in the books by A.A. Bailey, published back in the 1920’s, so it has been around a long time in spite of the fact that it remains an unknown concept.

In the book Cosmic Fire published in 1925 there are several places where there is reference to “the three solar systems”.  Numerous passages refer to “the first system” or “the second system”.  There is also other information, but considerable study is required to form a complete picture because, for the most part the the topic under discussion is on something other than solar evolution.  This information must then be combined with the insight provided by the H-R Diagram as well as other sundry knowledge of astronomy in order to arrive with what this essay presents.

It might also be instructive to ponder the transition points between the three types posed.  The H-R Diagram will typically show a broad belt of individual star points that all seem to run together.  They do not exhibit even a thinning out between types at these two points, although the number of points does increase toward the red end.  So, the points corresponding to 0.5 and 5.0 are unremarkable.  This is probably why the whole trace is now described as the Main Sequence, but the three different types have completely different characteristics.

Conclusion:  A look at the night sky will find hundreds or thousands of stars.  Mostly they present familiar patterns that have represented concepts of mythological or astrological import.  Otherwise there is no real association with anything to the average person.  To the professional astronomer stars take on a more or less technical meaning, but the underlying evolutionary relationships are lacking definition or have been left to the cosmologist.

Some may object to the separate designations of stellar types when the present tendency is to lump all stars into the “main sequence” category, but these types posed do have precedence, and they are as different as species are to us.  We might also grant the Red Dwarf its separate distinction considering that this type represents more than three-quarters of all stars in the physical universe.

In the presentation of this material hopefully some illumination has been provided that shows at least a part of the underlying evolutionary process that exists throughout the universe.  The interesting thing is that we can observe all three phases simultaneously as well as many variations that exist within that phase (or type).  Once this new basic concept is presented, the night sky takes on new meaning.  Much of the evolutionary process is hidden from us, but this essay was written to bring out what has been in plain view all along if one just connects the dots.  Without the H-R Diagram and other mundane knowledge of astronomy the concept of three successive solar systems would likely remain dormant.