Author: Harry Yoon
Editors: Chiara Chen, Ken Saito
Artist: Emily Hu
Stars are some of the most potent forces in the universe, with the ability to generate enough luminance to light up the dark void of space. All life on Earth, for instance, depends on the sun as our source of energy, light, and heat, making it essential for the survival of humanity. How does such a power form, and what can we learn from it?
We can start to better understand how these stars are formed by closely examining what a star is. All stars start as highly pressurized balls of gas that undergo fusion. The hydrogen atoms are stripped of their electrons, releasing energy through heat and light as they fuse with other electron-less particles. After this formation, stars can be categorized based on their temperature, with blue being the hottest and red being the coolest.
All stars' origin is nebulas, clouds of dust and gas found throughout the universe. Nebulas are light-years wide and are some of the most beautiful sights in space. The James Webb telescope launched in 2021 has already gathered stunning images of nebulas like the Southern Ring nebula. To form stars, small interactions between gas particles in nebulas start to pull them towards each other, creating a gravitational force. As the combined mass of these particles increases, the gravitational force acting on the particles also increases, leading to higher pressure. Thus, the particles in the center get highly pressurized, creating a scorching hot core. Once this core gets hot enough, the fusion between the atoms starts to take place, which sustains the star. Although we know the general details of how these powerful stars are formed, many mysteries still surround this multi-million-year process. However, with the recent advancements in space exploration technology, like the James Webb telescope, we can take a closer look at the history of these forces and the greater universe.
In our own solar system, the sun helps power the planets and life around it; therefore, we can assume that life forms outside of our solar system might be found close to similar stars. By taking a deeper look into the systems in space, we can begin to observe patterns, and someday, we might discover other life. Evidently, the life cycles of stars are spectacular to learn about and enlighten humanity with both light and knowledge.
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