hw4 - Eric Couillard Astro 142 20 February 2008 Homework #4...

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Eric Couillard Astro 142 20 February 2008 Homework #4 1. Throughout the universe are various gigantic gas clouds. They typically span hundreds of light years and contain as much mass as a million Suns. Star birth starts when the forces that make a cloud more dense lead to its gravitational (one of four forces) collapse. However, fusion requires extremely hot temperatures (10 million degrees,) and as the ideal gas laws (ruled by the electromagnet force) show, gas expands as it heats up. So, first the cloud has to cool down enough (a few degrees above absolute zero) to collapse and allow the formation to begin. This contraction converts the gravitational energy of the cloud into heat. As the cloud collapses, its temperature rises rapidly until it gets to the temperature where fusion can occur. Temperature is the average kinetic energy of a group of atoms. So, the higher the kinetic energy, the higher the temperature. In the case of fusion, the atoms are moving so fast and have such high kinetic energy that they overcome the electromagnetic force (the second of four forces) and protons get so close that the strong nuclear force (the third of four forces) takes over and protons fuse together. This is fusion, and at this point a star is born. 2. After the star uses up all of its Hydrogen in fusion, the star's temperature will be high enough to fuse the Helium atoms resulting from the Hydrogen fusion. It will then use up the Helium and begin to fuse the Carbon together, forming Oxygen. The star will continue fusing whatever
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This note was uploaded on 04/02/2008 for the course ASTRO 142 taught by Professor Putman during the Winter '08 term at University of Michigan.

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hw4 - Eric Couillard Astro 142 20 February 2008 Homework #4...

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