The Chandrasekhar limit is an upper bound on the mass of bodies made from electron-degenerate matter, a dense form of matter which consists of nuclei immersed in a gas of electrons.
Stars produce energy through nuclear fusion, producing heavier elements from lighter ones. The heat generated from these reactions prevents gravitational collapse of the star. Over time, the star builds up a central core which consists of elements which the temperature at the centre of the star is not sufficient to fuse. For main-sequence stars with a mass below approximately 8 solar masses, the mass of this core will remain below the Chandrasekhar limit, and they will eventually lose mass (as planetary nebulae) until only the core, which becomes a white dwarf, remains. Stars with higher mass will develop a degenerate core whose mass will grow until it exceeds the limit. At this point the star will explode in a core-collapse supernova, leaving behind either a neutron star or a black hole.
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