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Wednesday, 26 October 2016

The Universe in 101 words: How was the Sun born?

Above: A vast emission nebula, where stars are conceived.

There are places where the thin gas between the stars is just a bit thicker: Nebulae. Billions of years ago, a supernova’s shockwave hit one. It broke the nebula into knots, about a light year wide, called Bok Globules*

Gravity took over, compressing these clouds until they blocked all light. Inside the clouds huge spheres of collapsing gas formed. Compression heats things and gravity is really good at compression**: The spheres started glowing. 

The temperature kept rising. 

Hydrogen atoms started fusing together, generating massive amounts of energy - they became stars … and one was our Sun. 

Lucky us, eh?

* Yes, I know that sounds like something you cough up 

**If you’ve ever given a five year old a shoulder ride for a long period of time, your vertebra know what I mean.

These dark clouds are Bok Gobules, floating in a sea of pinkly glowing hydrogen gas.

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