Did You Know: Recycling in the Universe

Video Player

Video Versions

Did you know that the Sun is made of recycled matter from other stars?


Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and Sonoma State University.

  • Time-lapse of the Sun May 14-18, 2015 from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:  Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA.
  • Multi-wavelength image of supernova remnant W49B:  X-ray: NASA/CXC/MIT/L.Lopez et al.; Infrared: Palomar; Radio: NSF/NRAO/VLA 

Written by Margaret W. Carruthers
Designed by Leah Hustak and Dani Player
Editorial and design input from Dr. Brandon Lawton, Dr. Frank Summers, Timothy Rhue II, Claire Blome, and Leah Ramsay. 
Music courtesy of Music for Non-Profits 


Text, Did You Know? Recycling in the Universe
The Sun (Solar Dynamics Observatory) Text, The Sun is made of recycled matter from other stars.
The Sun formed billions of years after the big bang
Most of the atoms that make up the Sun formed during the big bang.
Some have formed inside the Sun itself.
A formation of purples and teals. Supernova Remnant W 498 (Chandra X-ray Observatory, Palomar Observatory, Very Large Array). Text, But the Sun also contains elements that could have formed only inside the cores of earlier stars.
Other elements in the Sun form only when more massive stars explode or collide.
Many generations of stars must have lived - and died - before the Sun.
The Sun is made of the recycled remains of its ancestors.