How Are Stars Born?

Stars are probably one of the most well-known astronomical objects in existence. They’ve starred in many blockbuster movies, yet they’re still very tiny to the human eye. But the eyes can sometimes be deceiving. Neutron stars can range up to 12 miles wide, while galactic supergiants can sometimes be 1000 times the size of the Sun. Not only do they manufacture and distribute light, carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen, but they’re one of the fundamental building blocks in a galaxy. In the field of astronomy, the study of a star’s birth, life, and death is central to the topic. Even though a star’s life is very complicated and interesting, this article will only discuss how a star is born. 

To start, within the molecular clouds in a galaxy, turbulence deep within the clouds begins to create knots full of sufficient mass that the surrounding gas and dust start to spontaneously collapse in on themselves due to their own gravitational attraction. These clouds are mostly made up of dust, molecular hydrogen, and methanol. These clouds are large and can be as large as hundreds of thousands of times heavier than our sun. As the collapsing continues, the material at its center begins to heat up and starts to collect dust and gas. Once the collapsing region reaches a size of 10,000 AU, it’s now classified as a pre-stellar core.  Sometimes, not all of the dust ends up as a star, and it can sometimes create planets, asteroids, comets, or even remain as dust.

The nuclear fusion of hydrogen fuels main sequence stars to form helium. They begin to flow energy out of their deep central regions to provide enough pressure to where the star doesn’t collapse in on itself. Main sequence stars have a wide range of luminosities and colors. The smallest stars known to earth are red dwarfs. They’re abundant in our galaxy and may contain as little as 10% of mass compared to our sun. Jumping to the other side of the scale, there are hypergiants. These beasts can sometimes be 100 or more times larger than our sun and have a surface temperature of around 30,000k. 

It’s surprising that a cloud of dust and other molecules drifting through the galaxy can become such giants or little stars all from collapsing. Many stars can be visible from our solar system, so be on the lookout since it might be possible to see a red dwarf or hypergiant.