By Ian Ridpath, Carole Stott, Giles Sparrow
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Additional resources for Astronomy: The Universe, Equipment, Stars and Planets, Monthly Guides (Eyewitness Companions Guides)
The hydrogen chain The hydrogen or proton-proton chain that produces energy in the cores of Sun-like stars involves a sequence of reactions in which hydrogen nuclei (protons) fuse with each other and then undergo radioactive decay to eventually produce a helium nucleus (two protons and two neutrons). mass lost in the reaction is converted into energy in accordance with equation E=mc2 neutrino gamma-ray photon helium nucleus neutron hydrogen nucleus (proton) When two protons collide, one changes into a neutron, releasing a positron and a neutrino positron another proton fuses with the proton-neutron pair, releasing a gamma-ray photon the two groups collide, forming a helium nucleus and releasing two protons over the limit The Crab Nebula supernova remnant shows “ripples” caused by the rapidly rotating neutron star (pulsar) at its heart.
But visible light is only a tiny portion of the spectrum of electromagnetic waves, ranging from extremely long-wavelength radio waves to short-wavelength gamma rays. Short wavelengths in particular are very damaging to living tissue, but fortunately Earth’s atmosphere blocks out nearly all wavelengths except for visible light and some radio waves. Astronomers only discovered that objects like the Sun emitted energy at these other wavelengths in 1946, when they used rockets to launch the first detectors into the upper atmosphere.
The bigger picture The universe stretches for unimaginable distances in every direction—perhaps to infinity itself. 5 trillion km). Light from objects farther away has simply not had time to reach us since the universe was created. But the universe stretches even farther beyond our observable limits. 7 billion lightyears from Earth would have their own unknown to us, and so on. There is certainly no recognizable “edge”—there filaments and voids Plots of galaxy clusters and superclusters show patterns in the large-scale universe.
Astronomy: The Universe, Equipment, Stars and Planets, Monthly Guides (Eyewitness Companions Guides) by Ian Ridpath, Carole Stott, Giles Sparrow