The vast enormity of space and its incalculable stars aren’t as far away as we typically think according to an astronomer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center – in fact, they’re as close as a touch, hug or a kiss.
“We are dead stars looking back up at the sky,” science communicator Dr. Michelle Thaller says in a recent video posted by The Atlantic.
Stars account for the origin of every cell in our bodies, the elements of which were created in the burning cores of collapsing stars. Simple elements like hydrogen were the only ones that existed in the fallout from the Big Bang, which eventually gave way to increasingly complex combinations as the universe expanded and aged.
From the iron in our blood to the calcium in our bones, we’re literally made of stardust – making that Nat King Cole song closer to the truth than the legendary musician probably realized.
“The only thing in the universe that can make a bigger atom is a star,” Thaller explains. “The entire periodic table, every element you’ve ever heard of, was processed inside the body of a star. And that star then unraveled or exploded, and here we are.”