Cosmic Fireworks Display

The article, “Violent Collision Triggers Cosmic Fireworks Display,” discusses the collision of two young stars creating a spectacular stellar explosion. The event took place about 500 years ago, from Earth’s perspective, in a region known as the Orion Molecular Cloud 1 (OMC-1) that was captured by ALMA in Chile. OMC-1 is a dense and active stellar nursery. Over time, two adolescent protostars roaming about the molecular cloud gradually wandered too close to each other and collided, sending streams of gas, dust and other unborn star material out into interstellar space. This creates a firework show for astronomers. As young stars form in dense regions of a massive cloud of gas they are able to drift about randomly. However, if the newborn stars slow down, they begin to fall toward a common center of gravity and if they get to close before dispersing into the galaxy, they experience violent collisions. While fleeting, protostellar explosions may be relatively common, by destroying their parent cloud, as in OMC-1, such explosions may also help to regulate the pace of star formation in these giant molecular clouds. These explosions could mean new star life.

Our objective was to be able to describe how stars form and produce energy in their cores by nuclear fusion. This article relates to stars formation because it discusses young protostars in a molecular cloud. Stars are born in cold, relatively dense molecular clouds. Molecular clouds are never uniform. Some regions inside the cloud are denser than others. Slightly denser regions collapse faster than their surroundings and become more pronounced. The collapsing cloud fragments into dense, star-forming cores. As a cloud fragment collapses under gravity, it becomes a rapidly rotating protostar surrounded by a spinning disk of gas in which planets may form. The lecture tutorial, “Star Formation and Lifetimes,” explains that the inward collapse of material causes the center of the protostar to become very hot and dense. Once the central temperature and density reach critical levels, nuclear fusion begins. During fusion, hydrogen atoms are combined together to form helium atoms. When this happens, photons of light are emitted. Once the outward pressure created by the energy given off during nuclear fusion balances the inward gravitational collapse of material, a state of hydrostatic  equilibrium is reached, and the star no longer collapse. When this happens, the protostar becomes a main sequence star.

I really liked this article because I thought it was very interesting and informative of the latest objective. I did not know that new stars sort of just wander around in the beginning allowing collisions with other stars to be possible. I liked this objective because I did not know anything about stars and how they work and I find it to be fascinating.


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