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Compact Cosmos

21 20 NEBULAEANDSUPERNOVAE stellar birth and death The beginning and end of a stars life offer some of the universes most spectacular sights. Consisting primarily of vast clouds of hydrogen,nebulae come in a number of guises. Dense regions of interstellar gas and dust are the delivery rooms for stellar nurseries,aglow with the light of new stars. Young hot stars excite the blushing plasma of emission nebulae,their ultraviolet light stripping electrons from hydrogen gas,later glowing red when gas and electrons eventually recombine. Dusty clouds bathed in the light of nearby stars cause the often blue reflection nebulae,the Pleiades hosting a great example. The end of a red giant or supergiants life arrives when the outer layers of the star are blown off to create planetary nebulae, shells of plasma and dust about the exposed core opposite top. Massive stars and some types of binary star systems end in collosal supernova explosions. Shooting outward, heavy elements synthe sized in the stars heart are strewn across space ready to make the next generation of worlds,while the shockwaves may jostle interstellar gas into birthing new stars.
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