Born of fire, the birth of a star is one of the most violent, yet remarkable, events in the cosmos, and it all begins in a large star forming region called a nebulae.
The image above shows the Orion Nebula, a large star forming region located some 1,600 light years away. Within this stunning region of space, molecular hydrogen clumps together to form stars. Usually due to an external force, hydrogen within a nebula clumps together to form a larger structure. As the hydrogen clumps together, its gravitational pull becomes stronger. As the hydrogen becomes compressed, its temperature begins to increase dramatically. Eventually, the pressure and temperature become high enough for hydrogen nuclei in the core to fuse together. Two hydrogen nuclei within the forming star come together under the immense pressures and extreme temperatures and fuse together. One of the hydrogen nuclei (a proton) undergoes a decay process called beta+ decay. One of the protons decays into a neutron, and releases a positron and a neutrino in the process. We now have a deuterium nuclei, containing one proton and one neutron. This deuterium then fuses with another hydrogen nuclei, forming a helium-3 nuclei and releasing a gamma photon in the process. The helium-3 nuclei then fuses with another helium-3 nuclei. During this step, two hydrogen nuclei are released, leaving us with a helium-4 nuclei. This proton-proton chain results in the fusion of hydrogen into helium. This fusion process gives off a tremendous amount of energy that powers the star.
#astronomy #astronomer #astrophysics #space #cosmos #science #physics #universe #stars #planet #astronaut #constellation #interstellar #spacetravel #outerspace #bigbang #milkyway #exploration #nasa #hubble #telescope #galaxy #stargazing #starstuff