Earth and Space

Star cocoons and other nebulae nuggets

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

  • A protostar is a body of gas that is compressed enough to be opaque but not hot enough to allow nuclear fusion to begin. As material flows into a protostar, a cloud of enveloping gas known as a cocoon nebula may form.
  • The shapes of nebulae have attracted some curious names including the Waterfall Nebula, the Lobster Nebula, the Witch Head Nebula, the Red Square Nebula and the neighbouring Heart and Soul Nebulae. The Calabash or Rotten Egg Nebula is named for the high levels of sulphur found in its gases.
  • The density of gas in nebulae is typically very low - one analogy suggests imagining the quantity of gas in a typical village hall expanded to the volume of the Earth.



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