• Question: How are stars formed?!?

    Asked by rb22 to Colm, Eoin, Joseph, Lauren, Stephen on 18 Nov 2013.
    • Photo: Eoin O Colgain

      Eoin O Colgain answered on 18 Nov 2013:

      Stars are formed when gas clouds of lighter elements contract under gravity. Gravity then fuses elements together, primarily through turning Hydrogen into Helium via nuclear fusion.
      Turn off gravity and the night sky would be dark.

    • Photo: colm bracken

      colm bracken answered on 18 Nov 2013:

      Hi rb22, good question. In our galaxy and other galaxies there are huge clouds made of gas and fine dust. most of these clouds are quite stable, but sometimes something gives them a ‘shake’. Sometimes this shaking can come from an exploding star called a supernova. This ‘shaking’ causes the cloud to become unstable and it begins to collapse. The collapse occurs in a spiraling motion the same way water spirals down the drain. Most of the matter becomes very concentrated in the centre and eventually the gravity becomes sooo strong that nuclear fusion starts burning and the star begins to shine. It is called a protostar at this point. The rest of the material in the spiral will go on to make the planets and moons.

    • Photo: Joseph Roche

      Joseph Roche answered on 18 Nov 2013:

      I love how many of these questions can be answered with the word


      Gravity is awesome. Both the movie and the fundamental force.

    • Photo: Lauren Mc Keown

      Lauren Mc Keown answered on 22 Nov 2013:

      Indeed, gravity. The stars form from giant gas clouds which collapse under gravity and when enough energy in the form of heat is formed, fusion of elements begin and this is what powers a star and keeps it alive. This process occurs over very very long timescales.

      So gravity is a great thing.

      That said, the movie Gravity wasn’t…and Sandra Bullock should never be sent to space.