Astro 10: Introductory Astronomy - Cabrillo College

Astro 10: Introductory Astronomy - Cabrillo College

Chapter 16: Star Formation What force makes stars? Gravity! Out of what? Interstellar gas and dust But this stuff is VERY low density a dense area may have ~100 atoms / cm3. Compare that the air

youre breathing ~1020 atoms/cm3! Dense, cold areas are also where atoms are most likely to collide and form molecules Stars usually form within giant molecular clouds

Environments Suitable for Star Formation Requires high density, and low temperatures to initiate gravitational collapse High Density? to amplify self-gravity

Low Temperature? to insure low pressure, which fights gravity (a hot gas will expand, right?) And dust helps too, Dust? to shield out high energy photons, especially UV photons,

which would heat the gas The Formation Sequence Shock wave piles up gas/dust to high density

Gravity pulls it together Center is opaque, trapping the heat and light which can escape only slowly Raising temperature in the core until Hydrogen fusion begins at temperature of 10

million degrees Kelvin Fusion creates light, whose pressure fights against gravity, stabilizing the star against further collapse A star is born!

Dark globules Keyhole nebula

Snake nebula Flame+HH+OrionNbula wideangle horsehead

Stars: Nearly always born in star clusters Achieving low temperature requires shielding from the radiation of other stars;

This requires dust, which blocks all wavelengths, not just those few causing absorption, as a gas does. But that means you need a MASSIVE interstellar cloud which requires a lot of mass, since dust is a relatively rare component of interstellar clouds

Star clusters forming in todays environment are called open star clusters, dozens to hundreds of stars Shock front, dust

SFR in LMC Eagle Sprite

Eagle columns classic HST image Dust columns Orion proto stars

Dark nebulae,blue dust Open vs Globular Star Clusters

Open clusters: few hundred scattered stars. Young, because they usually evaporate within a few hundred million years. Made out of the current interstellar material about 3% heavy elements (rest is H and He)

But Globular Clusters are WAY more massive, and older Massive! Require entire galaxies to collide to

produce these. A few hundred thousand to a million stars! So our Milky Ways globulars are all ancient, dating back to the birth of the Galaxy shortly after the Big Bang

At that time the universe was made of only H and He, essentially no heavy elements What do the colors of Nebulae Mean?

Dense, opaque dust will be black; cant see through it and it doesnt reflect light well, just absorbs it Thin dust is about the same size as cigarette smoke, about the same as the wavelengths of

visible light. Will scatter bluer light better than redder light, so thin dust lit up from the side will glow blue Red clouds are virtually always hydrogen Halpha emission

Green? Twice ionized oxygen has a strong emission line in the green part of the spectrum, excited by light from hot objects like new stars. If theres significant oxygen around,

you may see some green nebulosity as well Lagoon closeup Foxfur nebula, w/ blue dust

Cone nebula up close rosette

Cluster, gas; tarantula nebula New glob and shock front Witchs head

Pelican dust ha Cluster, ha shocks

OrionNeb unsharp mask cluster and gas How do nebulae respond to

light? Photons of light have momentum, they impact atoms and push them away. Atoms are easy to move as theyre very low mass Photons will also push on dust, but a dust grain is

millions of atoms, like a massive boulder compared to atoms, and much harder to push around. Therefore, as star clusters age, they push away the after birth of gas quickly, and only later the

heavier dust. So you see blue glow surrounding open star clusters when the gas is gone but dust is still there Later, even the dust is gone then just an open cluster is left

New cluster, bit of dust left plieades

Plieades eery ghost closeup Bright young cluster, little gas/dust

Dust disks in Orion Bow shock LL orionis Vela SN remnant

Bipolar flows: common from new stars / solar systems in formation Our solar system apparently formed after a blast wave

from a supernova compressed a giant molecular cloud Evidence: Mg 26 far above standard levels, within the body of meteorites. Mg 26 is the daughter product of Al 26, a

radioactive element created in supernova explosions. Indicates: A supernova went off nearby, seeding the solar system with Al 26 while the material which makes meteorites was still molten indicating it was at the birth of the solar system. This Al 26 decayed within a few

million years to Mg 26 which we see today. Thats just a tease if you want the BIG story of solar system formation, and ours in particular, then take Astro 3, in

the Fall For us here its ONWARD to Stellar Evolution!

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