# How many generations of stars can be formed in the Stelliferous Era?

As in general case, stars are formed from nebula which in some case itself is the result of a supernova.

Also stars need hydrogen to become a star (to do nuclear fusion), but stars consume hydrogen in their lifecycle. Thus, less and less hydrogen is left for the future generation and more heavy elements take that place.

How many generation of stars can be formed until there is no more enough hydrogen left to create new stars?

• Dec 30, 2020 at 9:07
• Dec 30, 2020 at 9:14
• Dec 30, 2020 at 12:12
• Does this answer your question? How can there be 1,000 stellar ancestors before our Sun? Dec 30, 2020 at 13:35
• I think it is not a dupe, it was only not very well formulated. The orig candidate asks for the precursors of the Sun. This question asks for the count of generations in the stelliferous era. I tried to fix it. Dec 30, 2020 at 22:46

One can make a theoretical upper bound by considering the most short-lived star possible $$\tau_{short}$$, and a large supply of initial hydrogen $$M_H$$. Then one could calculate the fraction hydrogen that is recycled $$r$$ after the star ends (with a supernova), and get a total number of generations as $$\log (M_{star}/M_H)/\log(r)$$. If one uses the solar-mass $$r\approx 0.5$$ and a galaxy mass of gas $$M_H=10^{10}M_\odot$$ one could get 33 generations. One could of course try tweaking this by using heavier stars that recycle better yet are not affected by the growing metallicity of the medium, but it would be rather wasted effort: it is not a realistic model.
One can simulate star formation and recycling by using models of each, but it quickly turns rather complex and worse, dependent on assumptions about how much intra-cluster gas will fall in the future, something that is weakly constrained. Current trends in star formation suggest that we are close to peak star number and that peak star formation was in the past, so relatively few stars will form in the future until the gas levels go below a critical surface density and shuts off (see section D in this paper). But if intra-cluster gas cools and rains down slowly that may prolong things a fair bit. Still, in about $$10^{14}$$ years normal star formation will have ceased.