Friday, November 2, 2012

Birth and Death of Stars

Orion Nebula & Star Cluster

Stars, like all life on earth, go through the cycle of birth and death, with a finite life span in between. Physics Today recently published an article describing this cycle for stars and clusters of stars. The article speculates that the number of stars in the million year age group, reveal that star formation has increased in the past 10 million years. Our sun is one star that belongs to the so-called main sequence group that constitutes mature stars. Unstable young, hot stars and cooler red stars that are in the twilight of their lives constitute the other groups. 

The phenomenon of giant gas clouds giving birth to stars is especially strong in the constellation of Orion. Most constellations visible to the naked eye are composed of stars at vastly different distances from the earth. They do exhibit patterns that have been named from antiquity, such as the Big Dipper. If one takes the statement given in Genesis 1:14 literally (“Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky…to serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years"), some of these constellations may represent signs in the sky of events that have taken place or will do so in the future. For astronomers however, these are ‘chance juxtapositions of stars at vastly different distances’. However, there are two constellations, the Orion Nebula cluster and the Pleiades, famously known as the Seven Sisters, that form true physical associations. What is fascinating about these clusters, especially the Orion Nebula cluster, is that new stars are being formed in these clusters today. They are classified by astronomers as young ‘OB associations’, which represent the hottest stars in the universe. 

The life and death cycle of stars is controlled by the well-known Second Law of Thermodynamics. This simply states that all natural phenomena proceed from an initial stage of order to one of disorder. In other words, the universe as a whole is slowly winding down, from an initial burst of super energy at creation. Psalm 102: 25-26 states: “…in the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth and heavens…they will all wear out like a garment”What is even more fascinating is that Orion and the Pleiades are the two constellations mentioned explicitly in the book of Job (38:31) where God tells Job: “...can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion?” Today we find that both constellations have special significance for astronomers, as true clusters where young stars are being born. Here again we see the wonders in the universe, as  observed and analyzed by astronomers, and those wonders mentioned in Scriptures as part of God’s eternal plan.

For details see Physics Today, October 2012:Physics Today

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