Images of Explosive Star Formation

Assessment 13 – Star lifetimes and energy production

Article link from

The Orion Molecular Cloud (OMC-1) is a stellar nursery about 1350 light years away. 500 years ago, two protostars stars bumped into one another, and according to, it created “[A] powerful eruption that released as much energy as produced by the sun in 10 million years.” The protostars were projected out of the cloud at high speeds, and it sent hundreds of ‘streamers’ of gas and dust into space. Analyzing the images of this event might provide information about the carbon monoxide distribution in the streamers. This could help scientists understand the effect of such events on star formation.

This article relates to our conceptual objective “I can describe how stars form and produce energy in their cores by nuclear fusion” because it discusses the formation of stars. As we learned in class a star forms from a cloud of gas and dust that form a clump due to gravity. The collapsing clump flattens into a disk like shape and begins to rotate. More material is gathered during the rotation, the core gets hotter, and a protostar forms. After this protostar becomes hot enough, hydrogen atoms fuse, which produces energy and helium. An illustration from the textbook of a star’s birth is shown below.


Video from the European Southern Observatory (ESO)

I thoroughly enjoyed this conceptual objective because I have always been a little curious to how our sun actually formed. Never curious enough to learn about it on my own time, but now because of this class I know have a basic idea of how stars form. I now know, for example that our sun was at one point a protostar, millions of years ago. As I gazed into the sun as a small child, I was filled with a sense of wonder. Now because of this conceptual objective I have a deeper understanding of the object in the sky I had been fascinated with as a youngster.

Author: jakek


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