Sorry if this question is too basic, but as I learned about how supernovae are means of producing heavy elements I began to wonder "What would happen if stars didn't explode, i.e. undergo supernova"? Hydrogen and Helium would definitely dominate element abundance at a higher level, but how much carbon and other heavier elements be produced? Are there intermediate stars of enough mass that we could reach all the way to Iron?

Now what would happen if stars never reached the planetary nebulae phase? Would the only elements present be Hydrogen and Helium?

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    $\begingroup$ Hypothetical questions are ok, but this one isn't because you need to say why your massive stars don't explode. Or are you asking what would happen if there weren't any high mass stars? And again, why wouldn't a lower mass star reach the planetary nebula phase? What physics are you wanting to change to prevent that? $\endgroup$ – Rob Jeffries Nov 7 '19 at 7:04
  • $\begingroup$ Also, stars can release heavier elements without exploding. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_giant en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asymptotic_giant_branch en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolf%E2%80%93Rayet_star $\endgroup$ – PM 2Ring Nov 7 '19 at 7:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is nonscientific speculation $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Nov 7 '19 at 18:14
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    $\begingroup$ Hi @user30855, right now it looks like you are asking what would happen if something that's definitely going to happen doesn't happen. Thought experiments are a recognized way of exploring ideas in science, but they are difficult to ask as Stack Exchange questions because of the way SE works. I suppose this could be answered by running a stellar evolution dynamics simulation and at some point setting it to "unphysical scenario" mode, but I don't think anyone will do that for you just to post an answer here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '19 at 20:29
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    $\begingroup$ If it's possible to rewrite your question to make it more directly answerable, that would be great. Thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Nov 7 '19 at 20:30