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Our lives are intimately linked to the stars but in ways much more down to earth than the romantic views of them As we all know our sun is a star and the thermonuclear reactions that are continuously taking place inside it are what provide and sustain life on our planet What do we get from the sun We get carbon oxygen calcium and iron courtesy of stars that disappeared billions of years ago Naeye 1998 Star formation is a study in contradictions because the formation of a star begins with atoms and molecules floating freely through space that are brought together through gravity to form masses that become stars Stars go through three major stages of development in their transformation from infancy to adult stars a collection of dust and gases protostar full-blown star Pictures of these various stages are mind-boggling in their beauty and bring one to an immense sense of awe at the machinations of the universe Scientists believe that stars begin as a collection of interstellar dust and gases Frank 1996 This mass of dust and gases forms a cloud that begins shrinking and rotating until it eventually develops into what is called a protostar Once the protostar reaches sufficient mass it then begins the process of converting hydrogen to helium through a series of nuclear reactions or nuclear fusion until it becomes a full-blown star Astronomy 1995 Those protostars that are too small to complete the nuclear fusion die out to become what are known as brown dwarfs refer to photo at rightThanks to an image from the Mt Palomar observatory astronomers have obtained the first image of a brown dwarf named Gliese 229B or GL229B It is a small companion to the red star Gliese 229 which is approximately 19 light-years from Earth in the constellation Lepus GL229B is too hot and massive to be classified as a planet yet at the same time it is too small and
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