How Are Stars Made?


Quick Answer

Stars begin the formation process in cold clouds, called molecular clouds; eventually, these clouds collapse internally, generating a solar nebula, which shrinks and generates heat, spins and flattens. Following the change in the nebula, stars have distinct shapes and exist independently of their formative clouds. To fully transform into a star, they undergo the process of nuclear fusion, which produces heat and energy sufficient for preventing the further collapse of the nebula, ultimately helping stars expand.

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Full Answer

The molecular clouds in which stars form contain primarily gas and traces of dust. These clouds exist in the densest regions of space, which proves conducive for the adherence of molecules and atoms. Upon collecting, star-forming molecules grow in masses. They generate substantial amounts of gravity and accrue pressure, which ultimately makes them collapse inwards. Motion from the collapse generates heat. The heating process transforms energy within budding stars from gravitational potential energy to kinetic energy and then to thermal energy. The solar nebula, or core, rotates faster as it shrinks, and converts to a flat disc shape. Forces of gravity accelerate the collapse, but eventually motion within the star produces forces sufficient for countering that weight. Through the fusion of atoms, pressures within stars eventually achieve equilibrium with gravitational pressure. This equilibrium creates young protostars, which transform to adult stars upon receiving infusions of hydrogen.

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