helium flash

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helium flash

n
(Astronomy) astronomy the explosive burning of helium in the case of a star of low mass that occurs when the core is so dense that the matter has become degenerate. The burning causes a rapid rise in temperature until it is so high that the gas ceases to be degenerate, after which there is a rapid expansion
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In stars that start out with less than about 2.3 solar masses, core helium burning begins abruptly, engendering a brief thermonuclear runaway, or core helium flash. When this happens, hydrogen burning actually slows in the surrounding shell, because it expands and cools; this makes the star's luminosity drop.