What is Contagious Star Formation?

aHR0cDovL3d3dy5zcGFjZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA2OC8zMjQvb3JpZ2luYWwvb3Jpb24tbmVidWxhLmpwZw==.jpeg

Recognize this nebula?

Yeah…we’re talking about the Orion Nebula again. I know, we already took a tour through the Orion constellation in my last post…but there’s still more to cover about how stars come to life, and Orion is still the best case study I know.

So…hold up a second. Contagious star formation? What’s that supposed to mean? I mean, usually, when you think about “contagion,” you think of catching diseases from others around you. So…can stars get sick?

Well, no. Stars are pretty good at maintaining their own homeostasis, something I’ll explain in a later post. By “contagious” star formation, I mean that star formation can trigger more star formation.

Basically…forming stars is contagious.

But how the heck does that happen? Continue reading

What is a Nebula?

Backyard_photo_of_the_Orion_Nebula.jpg

What’s a nebula?

Well…you’re looking at one.

Okay, okay, I know. You want to know what that actually is. You want to know why it’s there. You want to know why there are colors in space…and why you’ve never noticed such a thing in your own night sky before.

Nebulae are the stuff between the stars. They’re the galaxy’s backstage. They’re the only visible evidence of a vast expanse of gas and dust between the stars, completely invisible to the human eye, called the interstellar medium.

Nebulae are the sites of star birth. Planets form from the dusty particles present in these glowing space clouds. They’re the galaxy’s way of replenishing itself. And they’re pretty cool to look at, too.

But how come they look the way they do? Continue reading