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Cosmic Diary

Tell me about The First Stars

17 Jul 2009, 06:42 UTC
Tell me about The First Stars
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The lightest elements were made in the first few minutes in the life of the universe. The universe expanded and cooled too quickly to continue the synthesis of heavier ones.‭ ‬Elements heavier than lithium and beryllium,‭ ‬up to the mass of iron, can be made only in stars through the slow process of fusing lighter elements to make heavier ones.‭ ‬A small amount of energy in the form of heat is released in the process.‭ ‬These fusion reactions,‭ ‬called thermonuclear fusion,‭ ‬are the processes by which stars create heat and pressure. The pressure resists gravity and sustains stars like our Sun for billions of years as they slowly collapse.

Credit: Science@NASA
But the first stars,‭ ‬which formed as early as‭ ‬200,000‭ ‬years after the beginning, were giants as compared to our Sun‭ - ‬as much as‭ ‬100‭ ‬to‭ ‬1000‭ ‬times its mass.‭ ‬From their flaming surfaces,‭ ‬molecular dust was cast off,‭ ‬which formed the nuclei around which new stars like our Sun condensed.‭ ‬Meanwhile, gravity,‭ ‬acting on the enormous mass of the giants, crushed them soon after birth‭; ‬they were driven rapidly through their life cycle of burning the primeval hydrogen to form helium, and from these helium nuclei to ...

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