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Limitation to mass of currently forming stars?

  1. Oct 18, 2007 #1
    Is this true or false?

    The state of our universe, as it is today, contains enough matter comprised of heavy elements, that the radiation from young stars will interact with this matter in such a way that it will be prevented from nearing the star, and thus the mass of the star, and all currently forming stars, will never be able to attain a mass as great as even our own sun.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 19, 2007 #2


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    False. Photons interacting with atoms may ionize the atoms, but have essentially no effect on the nuclei, wich would fall in due to gravity.
  4. Oct 19, 2007 #3


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    It is false, but only because of the last bit, "will never be able to attain a mass as great as even our own sun". The presence of heavy metals is thought to impose an upper limit on the mass of newly-formed stars, but the limit is much higher than a solar mass and depends on upon the environment in which the star formed.

    The photons have momentum, so there will be radiation pressure. Regardless of whether this pressure is imparted to the electrons, atoms, or ions, it can still act to prevent infall or blow material outwards because electromagnetic forces are constantly acting to keep the plasma neutral.
  5. Oct 19, 2007 #4


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    Stars more massive than the Sun tend to burn out in a few million years. Yet we observe pleantly of stars more massive than the Sun. This implies they were formed recently. So you can think of your question in a statistical sense. If this cut-off were real, what are the odds in this 15-billion-year-old universe that the cut-off was reached in the last few million years?
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2007
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