Nebula as Star Nurseries
Stars are born in the interstellar clouds of gas and dust called nebulae that are primarily found in the spiral arms of galaxies. These clouds are composed mainly of hydrogen gas but also contain carbon, oxygen and various other elements, but we will see that the carbon and oxygen play a crucial role in star formation so they get special mention. A nebula by itself is not enough to form a star however, and it requires the assistance of some outside force. A close passing star or a shock wave from a supernova or some other event can have just the needed effect. It is the same idea as having a number of marbles on a trampoline and then rolling a larger ball through the middle of them or around the edges. The marbles will conglomerate around the path of the ball, and as more marbles clump together, still more will be attracted. This is essentially what happens during the formation of a star (Stellar Birth, 2004).
If the nebula is dense enough, certain regions of it will begin to gravitationally collapse after being disturbed. As it collapses the particles begin to move more rapidly, which on a molecular level is actually heat, and photons are emitted that drive off the remaining dust and gas. Once the cloud has collapsed enough to cause the core temperature to reach ten-million degrees Celsius, nuclear fusion starts in its core and this ball of gas and dust is now a star. It begins its life as a main sequence star and little does it know its entire life has already been predetermined.
Although this may sound like a simple enough process there are actually several variables that must be just right for birth to happen. For one, the mass of the collapsing particles is crucial and ther...
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...e times the mass of the sun. In this case gravity is overwhelmingly strong and is able to crush the neutron star towards zero mass. The result is a black hole with a gravitational field strong enough to not even let light escape (Brusca, 2004).
Brusca, Stone. Cosmos, Physics 304. Arcata, CA: Dr. Stone Brusca, 2004.
Miller, Coleman M. Introduction to neutron stars. University of Maryland. 22 Nov. 2004
Star death: post- main sequence evolution of stars. 22 Nov. 2004
Stellar Birth. 11 Jan. 2004. 22 Nov. 2004
Tyler, Pat. Supernova. NASA’s Heasarc: Education and Public Information. 26 Jan. 2003. 22 Nov. 2004
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