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November 25th: Encore: Stars at a Glance

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Date: November 25th, 2012

Title: Encore: Stars at a Glance

Podcasters: Thomas Hofstätter and Leon Dombroski

Organization: :: The Hidden Space Project ::

Links: www.hidden-space.at.tf

This podcast originally aired on August 8, 2011
 http://365daysofastronomy.org/2011/08/24/august-24th-stars-at-a-glance/

Description: Stars are like our Sun, but there are many variations of them. One thing is true, they all begin there life by the spark of nuclear fusion at their cores. Almost every dot in the night sky that we see are stars. All of those stars exist within our Milky Way Galaxy. Very rarely will a lone star actually exist in the spaces between galaxies, it is the norm for stars to only exist within galaxies.

Bio: Born in 1993 near Vienna, Austria, Europe. Upper High School with focus on Computer Science.Interested in extreme small and extreme big, devious and uninvestigated things. My main aim is to bring astronomy to public and to establish secular interest in astronomy, physics and mathematics. Host of :: The Hidden Space Project :: at http://hidden-space.at.tf.

If you have any questions, comments or suggestions to the podcast, feel free to write me an email to hidden-space (at) gmx (dot) at or visit me at my website at www.hidden-space.at.tf!

Sponsor:This episode of “365 Days of Astronomy” is sponsored by — NO ONE. Please consider sponsoring a day or two. Just click on the “Donate” button on the lower left side of this web page, or contact us at signup@365daysofastronomy.org.

Transcript:

Hello and welcome to this episode of 365 Days of Astronomy. My name is Thomas Hofstätter and I am the host of :: The Hidden Space Project :: at www.hidden-space.at.tf.

[Leon:] And I’m Leon Dombroski from the state of Connecticut in the United States.

[Leon:] Stars are like our Sun, but there are many variations of them. One thing is true, they all begin there life by the spark of nuclear fusion at their cores. Almost every dot in the night sky that we see are stars. All of those stars exist within our Milky Way Galaxy. Very rarely will a lone star actually exist in the spaces between galaxies, it is the norm for stars to only exist within galaxies.

    There are two main groups of stars:

  • Population II Stars – old, metal poor stars
  • Population I stars – new, metal rich stars

[Leon:]

    In addition, there are two main endings of a stars life:

  • Normal stars – like our Sun – end their life as a Planetary Nebula and White Dwarf
  • Large stars end their life in a supernova and end up as a Neutron Star or Black Hole

The Lifetime of a normal star looks as follows:

  • Dust cloud forms a Main Sequence star that burns for about 10 billion years
  • Star ends Main Sequence life and swells to a Red Giant (about the size of Earth’s orbit) and burns for 100 million years
  • Star sheds is layers as a Planetary Nebula lasting 100,000 years
  • Only the core of the star remains as a White Dwarf

[Leon:]
A large star behaves a little bit different:

  • Dust cloud forms a large star that burns on the Main Sequence for 50 million years
  • Star ends its Main Sequence life by swelling to a Red Supergiant (about the size of Mars’ orbit) and burns for a million years
  • Core collapse can occur anytime after the million year Red Supergiant phase, and can go supernova
  • All that is left is a supernova remnant (a wispy looking nebula) and a compact object – Neutron Star or Black Hole
    Stars can be classified as living in groups as there are no “stray” stars existing in the Universe. There are actually three types of stellar populations:

  • Open Clusters – a group of “new” stars in a group with a few hundred members
  • Globular Clusters – a group of “old” stars in a group with a few thousand members
  • Galaxies

[Leon:] Open clusters reside mostly within the disk of a galaxy while globular clusters exist outside the galaxy filling a space called the halo. This halo is actually part of the galaxy and it surrounds the entire galaxy. Of course, a star does not have to be in an open or globular cluster but almost always a star will be a part of a galaxy.

But how is a star born? The most abundant material in the Universe is Hydrogen. Clumped together in cold clouds, hydrogen atoms can join together to form molecular hydrogen. This only occurs at extremely low temperatures. These molecular clouds are very difficult to detect because no emission occurs. Much of the interstellar reddening (where a star or galaxy appears more red) occurs because of these molecular clouds. Barnard 68, a dark nebula, for instance is what a molecular cloud “looks” like. Notice the stars are barely visible behind this cloud. However, it is possible to view what’s behind the cloud using an infrared filter.

[Leon:] A cloud has to be “just right” before it can host a future star system. For successful gravitational collapse of a cloud to form a proto-star (a star that has not yet initiated fusion), two criteria must be met:

  • Jeans Mass
  • Jeans Length
    These two criteria, discovered by James Jean in the 1940′s, places restrictions on a collapsing cloud:

  • Jeans length basically states that a molecular cloud of a particular size can become unstable and begin collapse.
  • The Radius in the above equation is Jeans Length, the minimum radius of the cloud before self-gravitation occurs.

[Leon:] Smaller clouds within the large cloud can form stars. These molecular cloud fragments also fall under the Jeans criteria, and does affect the overall molecular clouds ability to continue self-gravitation, but that is an advanced topic.

So what can cause a molecular cloud to collapse?

    • Nearby stars that have ended their live in a supernova can send a shockwave stimulating collapse
    • Density waves within a galaxy propagate through the spiral structures that can stimulate collapse

[Leon:]

    • Galaxy collisions can create huge gravitational forces to act of nearby clouds

[Leon:]

    • A nearby Wolf-Rayet star can stimulate collapse

[Leon:]

  • Sequential stellar formation – nearby stars forming close enough that their initial fusion can stimulate collapse

The cloud is collapsing, so now what?
As the molecular contracts under its own gravity, conservation of momentum forces the cloud to take on a disk shape, and it begins to spin. The very center of the cloud remains circular while the outlying gas forms a disk. Material from this disk is ejected perpendicular to to the disk.

[Leon:]

    It is important to know that there is a limit to stellar formation. The proto-star must fall within a:

  • lower limit mass of 0.8 Solar masses
  • an upper limit mass of 100 Solar Masses

A proto-star that is less than 0.8 Solar masses becomes a Brown Dwarf and a proto-star that exceeds 100 Solar masses becomes a Wolf-Rayet star – a very unstable star that cannot hold on to its outer layers.

[Leon:] As the Hydrogen atoms at the core of the proto-star are forced together by heat and pressure, the Coulomb Barrier is reached. The Proton-Proton Chain begins with the fusing of hydrogen atoms into helium atoms – plus some gamma rays, neutrinos and photons.

So what is the equation that demonstrates the energy produced by this reaction? – E=mc2

[Leon:] A T-Tauri star – for instance – is a proto-star that has begun its fusion burning stage – with a bang and a shock wave that blows away any nearby debris close to the star.

Stellar Astrophysics – the study of the stellar process – is not an easy subject, but hopefully this information will bring you one step closer to fully understanding the processes of not only our Sun, but all of the stars in the night sky.

That’s it for today. I hope, you enjoyed it. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, visit me at my website at www.hidden-space.at.tf.

Thanks for listening and clear-skies!
[Leon:] Good bye for now!

New stories are to come soon!

Text by Ricky Leon Murphy.
Modified by Thomas Hofstaetter.

End of podcast:

365 Days of Astronomy
=====================
The 365 Days of Astronomy Podcast is produced by the New Media Working Group of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. Audio post-production by Preston Gibson. Bandwidth donated by libsyn.com and wizzard media. Web design by Clockwork Active Media Systems. You may reproduce and distribute this audio for non-commercial purposes. Please consider supporting the podcast with a few dollars (or Euros!). Visit us on the web at 365DaysOfAstronomy.org or email us at info@365DaysOfAstronomy.org. Until tomorrow…goodbye.

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