Astrophysics and Astronomy Terminology Used in the Arcy Art Web Site
Accretion Disc - Ring-like structure of material spiraling into a gravitational source like for example a black hole
Big Bang - An event commonly believed to have happened approximately 13.7 billion years ago when the universe exploded into existence and began expanding.
Binary System - A pair of heavenly objects for example stars bound together by mutual gravitation.
Black Dwarf - It is the name given to the cold ashes of a sun-sized star, usually a white dwarf that cooled so that it no longer radiates any heat.
Black Hole - Mass of gravitational field so strong that nothing can escape, not even light. Massive stars collapse under their own weight to form black holes.
Bok Globule - Dark dense cloud of cosmic dust and gas in which star formation is taking place.
Brown Dwarf - A stunted star with insufficient mass to initiate and sustain hydrogen nuclear fusion.
Cosmic Background Radiation - Remnant radiation from the Big Bang
Dark Energy - This is a hypothetical energy that permeates all space and creates anti-gravity force which accounts for the observed acceleration of the universe's expansion.
Dark Matter - Matter not detected by its emitted radiation accounting for most of the universe's mass
Dark Nebula - Cloud of dust and gas dense enough to block visible light from the objects they obscure, also referred to as absorption nebula.
Emission Nebula - Cloud of gas shining with its own light for example planetary nebulae and supernova remnants.
Gamma Ray Burst - A brief powerful burst of gamma rays believed to be triggered by supernovae, the collision of neutron stars or from black holes.
Globular Cluster - Densely packed sphere of stars.
Herbig-Haro Object - Class of emission nebula created by jets of material ejected by newborn stars colliding with the interstellar medium.
Interstellar Medium - The extremely rarified 'atmosphere' of space.
Infrared - Section of the electromagnetic spectrum invisible to human eyes sensed as heat or thermal radiation.
Magnetar - Neutron star with an extremely strong magnetic field.
Molecular Cloud - Accumulation of dust and gas markedly more dense then the interstellar medium and exclusive sites of star formation.
Nebula - Cloud of dust and gas in space.
Neutron Star - Extremely dense stellar remnant produced in a supernova where huge gravitational forces compressed electrons into protons producing neutrons.
Nova - Star's sudden increase in brightness. Found in binary systems where one component is a white dwarf, material is transferred onto the white dwarf triggering explosive nuclear reactions resulting in the increase of the star's brightness.
Open Star Cluster - Group of young stellar siblings born of the same molecular cloud but only loosely bound together by gravity.
Photon - Particle of light; quantum unit of electromagnetic force.
Planetary Nebula - Luminous shell of debris surrounding dying star in the form of an expanding cloud of cosmic dust and gas.
Plasma - Electronically conductive mixture of electrons and ions.
Protoplanetary Disc - Disc of cosmic dust surrounding a star out of which planets may form.
Protostar - Embryonic star not yet massive enough to initiate the nuclear fusion of hydrogen.
Pulsar - Rotating neutron star that emits a sweeping beam of high-energy electromagnetic radiation. Quasar - Very bright and distant core of an extremely powerful active galaxy.
Red Dwarf - Small and relatively cool star.
Red Giant - Aging star that exhausted all hydrogen in its nucleus and is burning increasingly heavy elements as fuel to ward off collapse.
Reflection Nebula - Cloud of cosmic dust that reflects or scatters light of nearby stars.
Solar Wind - Stream of plasma flowing from the sun.
Star - Massive ball of hydrogen & helium bound together by gravity and shining with light from nuclear fusion. Gravity drives this fusion and the fusion provides the power that stops the star from further gravitational collapse.
Starburst Galaxy - Galaxy experiencing intense burst of star formation precipitated by interaction / collision with other galaxies.
Star Formation - Process by which stars gravitationally coalesce from molecular clouds.
Star Formation Region - Molecular cloud in the process of collapse and forming new stars.
Stellar Wind - Solar wind emanating from a star other than our sun.
Supernova - Explosive demise of a star. Depending on the size, either a neutron star or a black hole is left at the centre.
Supernova Remnant - Expanding shell of cosmic dust and gas containing debris of supernova explosion mixed with swept-up interstellar matter.
White Dwarf - Dense cooling ember of a star that exhausted its nuclear fuel and collapsed under it's own gravity.
Cheetham, N. 2005. Universe. A Journey from Earth to the Edge of the Cosmos. Smith-Davies Publishing
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