Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cold Mother Molecular

Spectacular photo of "star eggs" in a large molecular cloud

We humans have it so nice - nine months in the warm womb of mother and then immediate delivery of tasty nourishing food on our first demand for service in this world.

Creator has not made it so nice for the stars born in heavens.

Astronomy teaches us the surprising fact that those bright stars, fierce furnaces of nuclear reactions radiating light and warmth to the distances of millions of light years are actually born in the most desolate and cold regions of the universe - molecular clouds.

The wombs of the stars - often called interstellar nurseries - are surprisingly complicated clouds where hydrogen atoms are able to join together to create molecular hydrogen H2.

The name hydrogen comes from Greek and means "water producer".

Really, it sounds so simple, like one plus one - gas of molecular hydrogens.

Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of 1.00794 u (1.007825 u for hydrogen-1), hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass.
Stars in the main sequence are mainly composed of hydrogen in its plasma state. Naturally occurring elemental hydrogen is relatively rare on Earth.

One proton, one electron - the simplicity itself?

Put two together and you get a hydrogen molecules...

Hydrogen molecules H2

The electromagnetic interaction is also responsible for holding molecules together. Although molecules are neutral, there is a residual of the electromagnetic interaction, called van der Waal's interaction, that holds them weakly together. Take hydrogen molecules, for example. The electric charge around the atoms in the molecules is polarised - the electrons are pushed apart by electromagnetic repulsion towards the extremities leaving a positive field near the middle. The molecules are held together by attraction between the negative extremity of one molecule's field and the positive middle of the other's. This is due to a polarization of the electric charge around the atoms in the molecule. For example, in the hydrogen molecule, the electrons are pushed apart by electromagnetic repulsion towards the extremities, leaving a positive field near the middle.
Physics master classes

Understanding electromagnetic interaction in hydrogen molecules is quite a challenge to a layman like me with only basic understanding of Physics. It is hard even with the help of great websites.

God made this fundamentally important one plus one.

And I think He is the only One who can build flaming stars from a cloud of such "simple" molecules.

For a breath-taking infrared image of the famous molecular clouds and the Eagle Nebula see the APOD image February 3, 2012,

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