Gravitational Contraction Doesn

Gravitational Contraction Doesn - Gravitational Contraction...

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Gravitational Contraction Doesn't Power the Sun Long Enough How about gravitational settling? This is a fancy way of referring to the converting of the potential energy of the falling layers to kinetic energy. When you hold a rock above the ground it has stored energy (``potential energy''--it has the potential to do some work). The stored energy is released as you let it fall. The rock gets kinetic energy because it is moving. Kinetic energy can heat things up. This is what would happen to the layers of the Sun if they were to fall inward toward the center of the Sun. The gas would be compressed and, therefore, would heat up. In addition to the expected heating, the gas would also radiate light. Until the beginning of this century, this was the idea physicists strongly argued for. This gravitational energy (with an efficiency of 1/10000 of one percent) could power the sun for 30 million years---a nice long time except for the nagging but ever louder criticism of the biologists who needed more time for evolution to occur and the geologists who preferred the idea of an
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This note was uploaded on 12/15/2011 for the course AST AST1002 taught by Professor Emilyhoward during the Fall '10 term at Broward College.

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Gravitational Contraction Doesn - Gravitational Contraction...

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