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Ask the Scientists

Ask the Scientists

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Ask the Scientists

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  1. Ask the Scientists Questions for Dr. Butner Star Formation 1/29/11

  2. How can you tell the difference between a star that is forming and a star that is about to collapse • For massive stars, it might not be so easy as those stars seem to live very short lives. However, even for these stars, they seem to disperse their surrounding cloud material before they die. • So as a starting point we might say that… • New stars (forming stars) are surrounded by cold dust and gas • Dying stars (stars about to collapse) might have shells of material (planetary nebulae or winds) that they have sent off into space signaling that their internal structure is becoming unstable

  3. ExamplesSpectra are also different between the objects as wellso you can use the derived properties (temperature, density, abundances) to help sort out which is which. Star Formation Note the extended gas/dark nebulae Planetary Nebulae Relatively Isolated Environment

  4. What is the role of dark matter in the process of star formation • Dark Matter – it is the material responsible for gravitational effects seen on very large scales • Galaxies need dark matter (or something) to explain their rotation curves • Clusters of galaxies need dark matter to explain the member velocities (i.e. if bound by gravity there is more material than we see). • So what does that mean for star formation? • Local star formation – probably not a big impact since the density of dark matter in our neck of the woods in the galaxy not great • But…

  5. Early Star FormationDark Matter Can Be Important • Recent results from the Herschel satellite suggest • Early galaxies seem to have a burst of star formation when the associated amount of mass including dark matter is about 300,000,000,000 solar masses! • See this story in Science Daily from 02/17/11 • Early stars might be affected by dark matter • Lots of models are being developed to explore HOW dark matter might change the mass of stars that are formed and hence the early production of heavier elements.

  6. Are dark matter and dark energy related to star formation? • Dark matter may influence early galaxy formation and the first stars. • See recent results from Hubble Space Telescope and Herschel Telescope • Check out • Dark energy will affect star formation in the future as its influence grows. It will make star formation harder as even the galaxies are pulled apart.

  7. Are the dark clouds collapsing, spreading or both? • Both • In some cases, they are collapsing as gravity wins over other forces • In other cases, they are spreading (expanding) as other forces – such as stellar winds, radiation pressure, thermal pressure – overcome gravity • Currently astronomers are trying to figure out what is going on with specific examples – and see what influences are important at what time in the process…

  8. The sun will expand into a red giant before collapsing into a white dwarf, causing the earth to heat up to an uninhabitable climate. All planets should be similarly affected.When Mars warms up could it become a viable ``surrogate planet’’ for life since it has water? A definite maybe!

  9. The Yes part • If there is enough water underground… • If we move a comet ``onto’’ Mars, we can add water • The Maybe part • Depends on the actual brightness of the sun. • It might get more than 100 x its current brightness • If it is too bright, even Mars might be too hot. • Jupiter’s moon Europa might be a better choice…