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Better take a look at NGC 6357 now before its stars blow up and disintegrate it

15 Sep 2020, 13:00 UTC
Better take a look at NGC 6357 now before its stars blow up and disintegrate it
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

I talk about star birth on the blog a lot, but in my defense there are three reasons for this: 1) It's scientifically very interesting; b) I find it personally very interesting, and γ) the images of it are just devastatingly gorgeous.

More on that last bit in a sec.

Stars are born from huge clouds of gas and dust called, generically, nebulae. These come in lots of flavors, too, from gigantic cold dark clouds to gigantic hot bright clouds (both cranking out thousands of stars simultaneously) down to relatively tiny knots of material forming one star individually at a time.

My favorite part of this process is when a nebula is making lots of stars, and a whole pile of them have already turned on, fusing hydrogen into helium in their cores. As I've written about many times, the most massive of these stars (with many dozens of times the mass of the Sun) are just monsters, blasting out radiation at tens of thousands of times the rate the Sun does. They emit tons of light in the ultraviolet and X-ray parts of the spectrum, and light like these has a lot of energy. It slams into the surrounding ...

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