Interstellar Hydrogen


Once upon a time, about 300,000 years after the Big Bang that triggered the existence of our universe (Chapter 12), hydrogen atoms were created in great profusion. Hydrogen became the basic building block of galaxies, stars, and nebulae. It is consumed in the furnaces at the cores of stars and converted into helium in the thermonuclear process that generates the energy that keeps the stars shining. At the stellar cores temperatures reach tens of millions of degrees, and it is there that the hydrogen, and subsequently helium, is consumed and converted into heavier elements such as carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and phosphorus, the building blocks of life that can later be released into space in supernova explosions to become available for planet formation in subsequent generations of starbirth.


Radio Telescope Spiral Galaxy Galactic Plane Supernova Remnant Neutral Hydrogen 
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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

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