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Until recently astronomers have been puzzled by the fate of red giant and supergiant stars. When the core of a giant star whose mass surpasses 1.4 times the present mass of our Sun (M⊙) exhausts its nuclear fuel, it is unable to support its own weight and collapses into a tiny neutron star. The gravitational energy released during this implosion of the core blows off the remainder of the star in a gigantic explosion, or a supernova.

Since around 50 percent of all stars are believed to begin their lives with masses greater than 1.4M⊙ , we might expect that one out of every two stars would die as a supernova. But in fact, only one star in thirty dies such a violent death. The rest expire much more peacefully as planetary nebulas. Apparently most massive stars manage to lose sufficient material that their masses drop below the critical value of 1.4 M⊙ before they exhaust their nuclear fuel. Evidence supporting this view comes from observations of IRC+10216, a pulsating giant star located 700 light-years away from Earth. A huge rate of mass loss (1 M⊙ every 10,000 years) has been deduced from infrared observations of ammonia (NH3) molecules located in the circumstellar cloud around IRC+10216.

Recent microwave observations of carbon monoxide (CO) molecules indicate a similar rate of mass loss and demonstrate that the escaping material extends outward from the star for a distance of at least one light-year. Because we know the size of the cloud around IRC+10216 and can use our observations of either NH3 or CO to measure the outflow velocity, we can calculate an age for the circumstellar cloud. IRC+10216 has apparently expelled, in the form of molecules and dust grains, a mass equal to that of our entire Sun within the past ten thousand years. This implies that some stars can shed huge amounts of matter very quickly and thus may never expire as supernovas. Theoretical models as well as statistics on supernovas and planetary nebulas suggest that stars that begin their lives with masses around 6 M⊙ shed sufficient material to drop below the critical value of 1.4M⊙. IRC+10216, for example, should do this in a mere 50,000 years from its birth, only an instant in the life of a star.

But what place does IRC+10216 have in stellar evolution? Astronomers suggest that stars like IRC+10216 are actually "protoplanetary nebulas" -old giant stars whose dense cores have almost but not quite rid themselves of the fluffy envelopes of gas around them. Once the star has lost the entire envelope, its exposed core becomes the central star of the planetary nebula and heats and ionizes the last vestiges of the envelope as it flows away into space. This configuration is a full-fledged planetary nebula, long familiar to optical astronomers.
The view mentioned in the middle of the second paragraph serves to
  • Areconcile seemingly contradictory facts
  • Bundermine a previously held theory
  • Ctake into account data previously held to be insignificant
  • Dresolve a controversy
  • Equestion new methods of gathering data
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网友解答

当前版本由xxuan17更新于2015-06-06 08:52:44

感谢由桓儿,xxuan17等2位用户对此题目的解答所做出的贡献。

Controversy是disagreement,是dispute,是要人们去争辩。P1提出fact1,P2首句提出fact2,并且与fact1矛盾。所以P2二句解释了为什么fact1和fact2矛盾,从而提出theory.这个过程里没有人去争辩产生controversy,在这句之前也没有任何人提出theory,所以的句子都是陈述事实。所以这句话本身仅解释了为什么这些事实里有矛盾。
当前版本感谢由xxuan17等的贡献

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