Thursday, January 8, 2015

Twinkle, Little Star

5:45 AM

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The stars glisten clearly in the night sky when you lay eagle-sprawled on a patch of grass in the countryside. There’s a mystical sort of majesty that comes with witnessing a sun shine from thousands of lightyears away. The night sky, when lit with countless constellations, leaves us awestruck--and rightly so. Just as Muggles have wondered about the existence of wizards, so have we wondered about the lives of stars –– how brightly do they shine? How are they even capable of shining? How far are they from our eyes? Why on earth are they so captivating?

Stars are actually far-off suns –– more accurately, our sun (that big yellow thing that tells us that it’s morning on our side of the globe) is in fact a star. These bright stellar orbs are completely luminescent objects made of plasma, meaning if they were people, they would be giving a whole lot of love without taking any for themselves. Isn’t that nice of them?

Despite their luminescent nature, not all stars are visible to the naked eye. In fact, on a good night, a person can only see between 2,000 to 2,500 stars in the night sky. Considering there are millions of stars out in space, the number is minute in comparison. The fact that we cannot see a star does not diminish its brightness, however. Just as it is so easy for us to overlook the potential of a stranger compared to the potential of a friend, it’s all about perspective. This biased view of the stars is called apparent magnitude and refers to how bright stars seem with respect to our view from earth. Though it seems logical to measure a star’s brightness based on how we perceive it, it’s a pretty narrow perspective. What about the other stars we are unaware of? Are they of less value?

Just as indie kids take pride in discovering obscure new artists who deserve to make it big but just haven’t been found yet, astronomers scour space for stars we may not be able to see. They’ve found out, in fact, that the brightest stars are those under the most amount of pressure. A star’s light is generated when hydrogen atoms fuse to form helium, which is like colliding two lives together so fiercely to form a single unit. Put two human beings with an intense attraction for each other in a small-ish space, and pretty soon a reaction will take place. The magnitude of the reaction will depend on how strong the attraction is –– people are held together by figurative magnetic fields even as stars are held by literal ones.

Sometimes, our lives collide so hard with another person’s that all that is within us suddenly fuses with the other. We are left as aliens in our own bodies. The impact of such an interaction left us completely changed. There are people who come like hot flashes of light: people who force themselves past our fortified gates, people who we wish could stay, people who cause us to change.

But sometimes, these people cause us to collapse into volatile, unpredictable, T-Rex versions of ourselves the way stars become supernovas before their inevitable demise. As stars reach the end of their lifespans, some decide they will not go so gentle into that good night. Instead, they decide to leave the universe with the memory of their dramatic flare. Just as there are people who we cannot sever ties with docilely. Sometimes, the best friendships end in an explosion. Perhaps we’ve given far too much of our hydrogen away, created too much helium to detach ourselves peacefully.

And sometimes, explosions are simply natural. When a supernova is formed, the star’s core collapses into itself before it explodes. It’s akin to having that one last meltdown before you decide it’s time for things to come to an end. It might well involve yelling, and crying, and perhaps even attempted murder, but at that point in time you know for certain: this is the end. And in this stage, the supernova releases so much energy that it could well outshine its other neighbors for days or weeks on end.

And perhaps, back here on earth, if we were ever to see supernovas, perhaps we’d be captivated by their existence. Perhaps for a moment in time, we look upon volatile stars and believe they can light up our darkness simply by existing. Perhaps they seem like the hope at the end of the tunnel –– those who have made it past the bleakest periods of their lives, those who have chosen to end their suffering despite the very real possibility of exploding into a billion fragments of themselves. Perhaps they are the reasons we ourselves find the courage to allow our cores to collapse inwards, and say with the loudest explosion we can muster “enough is enough.”

Article by Dani
Art by Ginny

Dani Pua is a storyteller and a Daughter of Eve. She is a curious creature, studying biochemistry until further notice, and considers herself a ‘citizen of the world.’ (Whatever that’s supposed to mean.) Oh, and she’s also very much fond of lemon squares.

Ginny is a self-proclaimed aesthete majoring in Advertising Arts. Aside from art, she enjoys baking, playing video games, watching animations, and getting distracted by cats. While still uncertain as to what she exactly she wants to become, she has an unwavering ambition to pursue a career in the art world.


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