The Formation of Stars

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1 The Formation of Stars

2 A World of Dust The space between the stars is not completely empty, but filled with very dilute gas and dust, producing some of the most beautiful objects in the sky. We are interested in this interstellar medium because these dense, interstellar clouds (nebulae) are they birth place of stars

3 Bare-Eye Nebula: Orion One example of an interstellar gas cloud (nebula) is visible to the bare eye: the Orion nebula

4 The Life Cycle of Stars Dense, dark clouds, possibly forming stars in the future Aging supergiant Young stars, still in their birth nebulae

5 Shocks Triggering Star Formation Globules = sites where stars are being born right now! Trifid Nebula

6 Sources of Shock Waves Triggering Star Formation Previous star formation can trigger further star formation through: a) Shocks from supernovae (explosions of massive stars):

7 Sources of Shock Waves Triggering Star Formation Giant nebulae are very large and may occasionally collide with each other b) Collisions of nebulae.

8 Sources of Shock Waves Triggering Star Formation c) Spiral arms in galaxies like our Milky Way: Spirals arms are probably rotating shock wave patterns.

9 Still enshrouded in opaque cocoons of dust => barely visible to normal telescopes, but bright in the infrared. Protostars Protostars = pre-birth state of stars: Hydrogen to Helium fusion not yet ignited

10 From Protostars to Stars Star emerges from the enshrouding dust cocoon Ignition of Hydrogen into Helium fusion processes

11 Maximum Masses of Main-Sequence Stars Maximum mass: ~ 100 solar masses a) More massive clouds fragment into smaller pieces during star formation. b) Very massive stars lose mass in strong stellar winds η Carinae (Eta Carinae)

12 Minimum Mass of Main-Sequence Stars Minimum mass = 0.08 M sun Gliese 229B At masses below 0.08 M sun, gas doesn t get hot enough to ignite fusion. Brown Dwarfs

13 Evolution on the Main Sequence Main-Sequence stars live by fusing Hydrogen to Helium A star will burn out when it runs out of Hydrogen

14 Evolution off the Main Sequence: Expansion into a Red Giant Hydrogen in the core completely converted into Helium: fusion of Hydrogen into Helium stops in the core. Hydrogen burning continues in a shell around the core. Expansion and cooling of the outer layers of the star Red Giant

15 Red Giant Evolution Hydrogen-burning shell keeps dumping He onto the core. He-core gets denser and hotter until the next stage of nuclear burning can begin in the core: Helium fusion into Carbon and Oxygen!

16 Fusion Into Heavier Elements Fusion into heavier elements than C, O: requires very high temperatures; occurs only in very massive stars (more than 8 solar masses).

17 The End of a Star s Life When all the nuclear fuel in a star is used up, gravity will win over pressure and the star will die. High-mass stars will die first, in a gigantic explosion, called a supernova.

18 Red Dwarfs Stars with less than ~ 0.4 solar masses Hydrogen and helium remain well mixed throughout the entire star. No expansion to giant. Star not hot enough to fuse Helium. Live such long lives that no death s have been recorded

19 Sunlike Stars Sunlike stars (~ solar masses) develop a helium core. Expansion to red giant Ignition of Helium fusion in the core Ultimate formation of a C,O core

20 The Final Breaths of Sun-Like Stars: Planetary Nebulae Remnants of stars with ~ 1 a few solar masses Have nothing to do with planets! The Helix Nebula

21 The Remnants of Sun-Like Stars: White Dwarfs Formation of a White Dwarf Extremely dense: Sunlike stars build up a Carbon-Oxygen (C,O) core, which does not ignite Carbon fusion. He-burning shell keeps dumping C and O onto the core. C,O core collapses and the matter stops reacting. 1 teaspoon of WD material: mass 16 tons!!! Eventually, white dwarf will run out of fuel and form a black dwarf.

22 The Fate of Our Sun and the End of Earth Sun will expand to a Red giant in ~ 5 billion years Expands to ~ Earth s radius Earth will then be incinerated! Sun may form a planetary nebula (but uncertain) Sun s C,O core will become a white dwarf

23 The Deaths of Massive Stars: Supernovae Final stages of fusion in high-mass stars (> 8 M sun ), leading to the formation of an iron core Iron core ultimately collapses, triggering an explosion that destroys the star: A Supernova

24 The Famous Supernova of 1987: SN 1987A Before At maximum

25 Local Supernovae and Life on Earth Nearby supernovae could kill many life forms on Earth through gamma radiation and high-energy particles. At this time, no star capable of producing a supernova is that close. Most massive star known (~ 100 solar masses) is 500X further than could cause an affect to Earth.

26 Formation of Neutron Stars A supernova explosion of a star > 8 M sun blows away its outer layers. The central core will collapse and the pressure gets so high that protons and electrons combine to form NEUTRONS! Neutron Star Piece of neutron star matter the size of a sugar cube has a mass of ~ 100 million tons!!!

27 Black Holes Neutron stars can not exist with masses > 3 M sun It will collapse into a single point a singularity: It Becomes A Black Hole!

28 Black Holes No object can travel faster than the speed of light => nothing (not even light) can escape from inside the black hole

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