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Cosmic Diary

Tell me about Star Birth

17 Jul 2009, 09:40 UTC
Tell me about Star Birth
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

In the vast regions of space between the stars there are enormous clouds of molecular gas,‭ ‬composed mostly of the primeval hydrogen and helium elements. The masses of these clouds are up to several hundred thousand Sun masses and they have typical diameters of‭ ‬50‭ ‬light-years‭ (‬500,000‭ ‬billion kilometers‭); ‬the gas pressure in such clouds is sucient to balance the eects of gravity and they remain quasi-stable for long periods.‭ ‬But the reverberation of a distant supernova,‭ ‬the death and explosion of a mature star,‭ ‬can act as a trigger for the collapse of a‭ ‬of the cloud by causing a wave-like motion of alternating regions of denser and rarer concentrations.‭ ‬The collapse may take half a million years or more,‭ ‬ultimately forming stars.‭ ‬Sir James Jeans in‭ ‬1902,‭ fi‬rst understood this process,‭ ‬and what is more,‭ ‬derived a way to calculate the mass necessary for collapse under the changing conditions of the evolving universe.

The bright region of the Eagle Nebula (M16) provides a window into the center of a larger dark shell of dust.
The Eagle Nebula is one such spectacular location of starbirth.‭ ‬In figure‭ ‬we see‭ ‬a large shell of dust,‭ ‬in which a cluster of ...

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