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Jack Welch, Univ. of California at Berkeley, on-camera
QuickTime Movie (1.2 MB); Sound File (721K); Text
Interstellar gas consists mainly of hydrogen and helium. Many scientists believe these primordial gases were formed within minutes of the Big Bang. However, small amounts of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen are present in the gas between the stars. Forged in the cores of ancient stars, these heavier elements combine under the right conditions to form a variety of molecules.
GMC's are also very frigid, with an average temperature of 10 to 100 degrees Kelvin, that's -266 degrees Fahrenheit!
GMC's as Stellar Nurseries
Astronomers believe GMC's are the birthplace of stars.
Lew Snyder, University of Illinois, on-camera
QuickTime Movie (1.5 MB); Sound File (1.1 MB); Text
A typical GMC consists of a large, cool, low-density cloud of molecular gas surrounding a small, warm, dense core.
Core Region of a GMC
The density of gas at the core is about one thousand times greater than in the surrounding region. Further
compression of the core resulting from its own gravity or other forces may trigger starbirth.
JPEG Image (48K); Caption, Credit and Copyright
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