Book 236: The Origin of Stars by Michael D. Smith

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The Orion Nebula – closest place to the Solar System where massive stars form

The Origin of Stars by Michael D. Smith

Finished reading on November 1st, 2017

Rating: 10/10

How are stars born? What processes lead to the birth of a star? And what conditions are necessary for star formation? Those might be some of the questions that lead you to read Professor Michael D. Smith’s book “The Origin of Stars”, which was first published in 2004 by Imperial College Press.

This book is aimed for any reader, who is interested in how stars form,and although it gets into the equations governing star formation in a lot of detail, that shouldn’t scare off even say a determined high-school student.

I found the book and the topic fascinating, and more so than I first thought it would be. As far as I knew or remembered from astronomy lectures from a few years ago – matter collapses, temperature on the inside rises, thermonuclear reactions start and poof – you’ve got yourself a brand new star! Or that’s at least how I’d have described it. Now I know better.
In “The Origin of Stars” you find out more about the environment in which stars are born, what prompts the formation of stars and what will eventually stop star formation in a molecular cloud. You also find out about the different stages that a protostar goes through in it’s collapse to in the end accrete matter from its surrounding disk to eventually become a star. And what happens to the environment in which it’s located? What kind of objects that have been observed are related to star formation?

There’s a lot of fascinating details from how come newborn stars don’t rotate so fast as to lose their matter because of its envelope achieving escape speed.  And how do different kinds of stars form and what can form if certain conditions aren’t met. The book is packed with information.

Now to get away from my excitement about star formation, I’ll leave you with one last important bit of information, that I’m sure everyone will eventually need in their life. If you happen across Lithium in an objects hot atmosphere, you can be pretty sure that you’ve either happened across a really young star, or a brown dwarf. And if you wait astronomically long enough, you’ll find out which it is – if it loses the Lithium after a while, then it’s a young star, if it keeps its Lithium – brown dwarf! If it keeps its precious stones – it’s Thráin.