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View from the top of the Flatirons (Boulder, CO)

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Presentation on theme: "View from the top of the Flatirons (Boulder, CO)"— Presentation transcript:

1 View from the top of the Flatirons (Boulder, CO)




5 You do not need to know the details of this slide
REVIEW The universe began with the “Big Bang” billion years ago. You do not need to know the details of this slide

6 REVIEW As the universe expanded after the Big Bang, it began to cool down. Once it cooled down enough, matter could form into atoms. Most of these atoms were hydrogen. + - Hydrogen – 1 proton and 1 electron

7 Nebula: a cloud of gas and dust in space.
REVIEW Gravity caused the hydrogen to attract to each other, collecting into clumps of gas called nebulae. This process still occurs today. Nebula: a cloud of gas and dust in space. The Eagle Nebula, photographed by the Hubble Telescope. This image was created by ASU astronomers, Jeff Hester and Paul Scowen.

8 In some regions of a nebula, the hydrogen is clumped together tight enough to form what is called a “protostar”. Protostar – a large object that forms by the contraction of gas within a nebula As the protostar grows, temperature and pressure increase. If the temperature and pressure get high enough, the protostar will ignite by “fusion”. Fusion – the process by which atomic nuclei join together to form a heavier element. Hydrogen + Hydrogen = Helium + a lot of energy A helium atom weighs less than 2 hydrogens During fusion, mass turns into energy. E = MC2 (Energy = the mass difference times the speed of light, squared) In other words, a very small amount of mass turns into a LOT of energy!

9 2 Hydrogens fusing to form 1 helium + 1 neutron + a lot of energy.

10 Hubble photograph of stars formed in a nebula named the “Large Magellanic Cloud”. There are so many stars formed in this nebula that astronomers often call it a “stellar nursery”.

11 As a star runs out of hydrogen to fuse, larger elements will start fusing.
Fusion can create heavier and heavier elements, all of the way up to iron (Fe). An example of how a large star can have different fusion layers. You don’t need to know the details of this figure.

12 Eventually, the star will run out of elements to fuse.
Once a large star runs out of nuclear material, it will implode and then explode as a “supernova” Supernova – a stellar explosion As the star explodes, the energy is so great that new elements that are heavier than iron can form. Almost all of the elements heavier than hydrogen are formed by fusion and supernova explosions. This is called “nucleosynthesis”. Nucleosynthesis – the process of creating new atomic nuclei from pre-existing ones. After a supernova, all of these new elements are disbursed into space, forming a new nebula. Nebula formed by a supernova explosion

13 Our solar system likely formed out of a nebula created by a supernova explosion.

14 The hypothesis that explains the formation of our solar system is called the “nebular hypothesis”.
Our solar system originated as a nebula containing mostly hydrogen and helium, with a small amount of heavier elements. As the nebula contracted, it formed a protostar at its center. Also, as it contracted, it began to rotate faster and it flattened into a disk. This is because of the “conservation of angular momentum”. The protostar ignited by fusion. The rest of the disk formed into planets by gravitational attraction.

15 A protoplanetary disk in the Orion Nebula.

16 Nebular hypothesis UE4E Figure 1.3 Particles of matter become clumped together( this is called “accretion”) Small grains ® boulders ® planetesimals ® planets The Inner (terrestrial) and outer (giant, Jovian) planets developed in different ways.

17 Inner versus outer planets
UE4E Figure 1.4 Outer Planets Inner Planets Cosmic rays from the sun swept most gases to cooler, outer part of the disk The outer planets are made of ice that surrounds their rocky cores They are massive enough such that their gravity can hold on to thick atmospheres. They are formed mostly of rock and metal (solid at high temperature)

18 Jovian planets, also called gas-giants
UE4E Figure 1.4 Know the names and order of the planets. You will be asked this on an exam! Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto (no longer considered a planet) Terrestrial planets Jovian planets, also called gas-giants

19 The early solar system was full of many asteroids made of rock and metal.
The Earth was formed a little over 4.5 billion years ago by the “accretion” of this rock and metal. As the Earth grew larger, it gained more gravity. This attracted even more matter to it! The early Earth was like a gravitational vacuum cleaner, sweeping up the asteroids along its orbital path around the sun.

20 It is hypothesized that early on (~4
It is hypothesized that early on (~4.5 billion years ago) a large planetoid about the size as Mars hit the Earth. This is called the “giant impact hypothesis”. This collision caused the formation of the Moon and the tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis.

21 Earth Heats Up As the Earth formed, it heated up.
Why did it heat up? 2 Main reasons: Many meteorite impacts - kinetic energy of the meteorites converted to heat energy upon impact. kinetic energy - the energy of a moving object Kinetic energy = ½ mass * velocity2 (note the square) Radioactive decay of elements in rock. The primary radioactive elements in rock are uranium, thorium, potassium.

22 Earth Differentiates Lightest rock: crust Denser rock: mantle
As the Earth become very hot, it began to “differentiate”. Differentiation: The transformation of random chunks of primordial matter into a body whose interior is divided into layers of different density. Lightest rock: crust Denser rock: mantle Iron and other heavy elements: core

23 The Earth differentiated into 3 layers: core, mantle, and crust.
(you don’t need to know these numbers)

24 Oxygen + Silicon = Rock Whole Earth:
UE4E Figure 1.7 Whole Earth: Iron Oxygen Silicon Crust (composed of the lighter elements): Oxygen Silicon Aluminum Oxygen + Silicon = Rock Know these 3 most abundant elements in the whole Earth and in the crust!

25 Meteorites Building blocks of the Earth
Stony-iron meteorites (likely from a partially differentiated asteroid)

26 Iron and some nickel Rock (mostly olivine)
Image: Nature Remodels the Coastline. Artist: Don Davis. NASA Ames Research Center. < jpg>. Iron and some nickel Rock (mostly olivine)

27 granite continental crust
Image: Nature Remodels the Coastline. Artist: Don Davis. NASA Ames Research Center. < jpg>. granite continental crust meteorite basalt oceanic crust Dense rock mantle (olivine) Dense iron core (and some nickel) NASA

28 The ocean and early atmosphere probably formed from volcanoes.

29 The Theory of PLATE TECTONICS
13 Major Tectonic Plates

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