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Science

How were the sun and other stars formed?

In our earlier article, we have seen how the universe came into existence. Today, we will come to know how the stars were formed. Apart from the myth/belief that we become stars when we die, there is a science side of the story.
13.5 billion years ago, the universe was mostly hydrogen gas with gravity doing what gravity does which is to slowly pull it into vast clouds. Hydrogen is the simplest of gaseous but it has a very special property it’s a tremendous source of power. Heat hydrogen to around 10 million degrees and it begins to produce the energy that makes the stars shine and supplies the universe with warmth and light.

 

EVOLUTION OF A STAR

To understand the evolution of a star in a better way, let’s imagine we could make a small star here on earth. First, we need plenty of hydrogen gas about a sports stadium fold would be perfect. Next, we need to imagine squishing this hydrogen together just as gravity does in space. As the hydrogen compacts, the essences of gas start dancing of each other and the temperature begins to rise. By the time, it compresses to the size of soccer ball, the hydrogen reaches the critical 10 million degrees and a process called nuclear fusion begins.

 

Scientists have used Chandra to make a detailed study of an enormous cloud of hot gas enveloping two large, colliding galaxies in the system known as NGC 6240. This unusually large reservoir of gas contains as much mass as 10 billion Suns, spans about 300,000 light years, radiates at a temperature of more than 7 million degrees, and glows in X-rays (purple). The Chandra data have been combined with optical data from the Hubble, which show long tidal tails from the merging galaxies, extending to the right and bottom of the image.

The hydrogen starts to fuse together making a new heavier material, Helium. With every step of this tiny bumping grind some matter gets converted into pure energy and an amateur star is just created. If this was a real experiment you wouldn’t want to go near it. Why? The energy given by the star even this small is devastated.

Back in the early universe, the same process happened for the first time on a much bigger scale. Gravity compressed the hydrogen gas clouds over millions of years until deep in the center the hydrogen became hot enough for fusion to attempt. The first star burst into light pouring its energy to the vast universe. A product of the laws of nature and the raw materials left over from the Big Bang. It was almost thousand times bigger than our earth’s sun and burnt a deep Blue. What’s more the star soon had company, the stars were turning on, the same process still happens in our sun which is where we get the energy we need to live.

 

 SUPERNOVA & FORMATION OF ELEMENTS (e.g. Oxygen, Carbon and Iron)

You can’t build a world like ours from simple gaseous like hydrogen and helium. You need other elements like oxygen, carbon and iron and many more, but we got lucky yet again, because the very same process that causes the stars to shine also just happens to make material like oxygen, carbon and iron.

 

Star elements

 

Stars simply by accident are giant factories. Let’s split a star in half for better understanding. Just is in the soccer ball star we have discussed above, the hydrogen atoms are fusing together creating helium which produces the star’s energy, but helium is slightly heavier than hydrogen, so it sinks to the center of the star. Now the helium atoms take center stage. As they fused together they produce even more energy and form yet another new element, Carbon – A vital building block of every living thing.

 

Supernova

 

The process repeats itself over and over and the star becomes laid like an onion, a really big onion. The closer to the center the heavier the elements like neon, oxygen and last of all iron. Now things changed iron doesn’t produce energy when it fuses. So the fire begins to go out more and more iron builds up in the star’s core until almost all the remaining fuel runs out. Now gravity takes over and squishes the star in on itself. As its core gets more and more compressed its temperature source until it’s over 100 times hotter than the core of our sun. Finally, the star collapses and explodes. This is called Supernova, the death of a star and the birth of something new. In these brief microseconds, a massive shockwave passes through the star, the blast is so powerful that it forces some of the iron to fuse into even heavier elements. And that’s how heavy elements such as gold, platinum and lead are made forged in the heart of an exploding star.

 

EPILOGUE

So if you have a gold ring make sure you appreciate it, the metal was made in blinding flash of light billions of years ago, the finale of the process that produce the elements all around us today. It might amaze you that our bodies are constructed from the stuff of the stars, and our heart beats because of the energy given by the elements.

Science always brings things easy and logical. 😉

Stay blessed! Stay tuned.. 🙂

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