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Jeans Instability
In stellar physics, the Jeans instability causes the collapse of interstellar gas clouds and subsequent star formation, named after James Jeans. It occurs when the internal gas pressure is not strong enough to prevent gravitational collapse of a region filled with matter. For stability, the cloud must be in hydrostatic equilibrium, which in case of a spherical cloud translates to: :\frac = -\frac, where M_\text(r) is the enclosed mass, p is the pressure, \rho(r) is the density of the gas (at radius r), G is the gravitational constant, and r is the radius. The equilibrium is stable if small perturbations are damped and unstable if they are amplified. In general, the cloud is unstable if it is either very massive at a given temperature or very cool at a given mass; under these circumstances, the gas pressure cannot overcome gravity, and the cloud will collapse. The Jeans instability likely determines when star formation occurs in molecular clouds. Jeans mass The Jeans mass is na ...
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Stellar Physics
Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics and chemistry in the study of astronomical objects and phenomena. As one of the founders of the discipline said, Astrophysics "seeks to ascertain the nature of the heavenly bodies, rather than their positions or motions in space–''what'' they are, rather than ''where'' they are." Among the subjects studied are the Sun, other stars, galaxies, extrasolar planets, the interstellar medium and the cosmic microwave background. Emissions from these objects are examined across all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum, and the properties examined include luminosity, density, temperature, and chemical composition. Because astrophysics is a very broad subject, ''astrophysicists'' apply concepts and methods from many disciplines of physics, including classical mechanics, electromagnetism, statistical mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum mechanics, relativity, nuclear and particle physics, and atomic and ...
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Free-fall Time
The free-fall time is the characteristic time that would take a body to collapse under its own gravitational attraction, if no other forces existed to oppose the collapse. As such, it plays a fundamental role in setting the timescale for a wide variety of astrophysical processes—from star formation to helioseismology to supernovae—in which gravity plays a dominant role. Derivation Infall to a point source of gravity It is relatively simple to derive the free-fall time by applying Kepler's Third Law of planetary motion to a degenerate elliptic orbit. Consider a point mass m at distance R from a point source of mass M which falls radially inward to it. Crucially, Kepler's Third Law depends only on the semi-major axis of the orbit, and does not depend on the eccentricity. A purely radial trajectory is an example of a degenerate ellipse with an eccentricity of 1 and semi-major axis R/2. Therefore, the time it would take a body to fall inward, turn around, and return to its origi ...
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Langmuir Waves
Plasma oscillations, also known as Langmuir waves (after Irving Langmuir), are rapid oscillations of the electron density in conducting media such as plasmas or metals in the ultraviolet region. The oscillations can be described as an instability in the dielectric function of a free electron gas. The frequency only depends weakly on the wavelength of the oscillation. The quasiparticle resulting from the quantization of these oscillations is the plasmon. Langmuir waves were discovered by American physicists Irving Langmuir and Lewi Tonks in the 1920s. They are parallel in form to Jeans instability waves, which are caused by gravitational instabilities in a static medium. Mechanism Consider an electrically neutral plasma in equilibrium, consisting of a gas of positively charged ions and negatively charged electrons. If one displaces by a tiny amount an electron or a group of electrons with respect to the ions, the Coulomb force pulls the electrons back, acting as a restor ...
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Bonnor–Ebert Mass
In astrophysics, the Bonnor–Ebert mass is the largest mass that an isothermal gas sphere embedded in a pressurized medium can have while still remaining in hydrostatic equilibrium. Clouds of gas with masses greater than the Bonnor–Ebert mass must inevitably undergo gravitational collapse to form much smaller and denser objects. As the gravitational collapse of an interstellar gas cloud is the first stage in the formation of a protostar, the Bonnor–Ebert mass is an important quantity in the study of star formation. For a gas cloud embedded in a medium with a gas pressure p_, the Bonnor–Ebert mass is given by M_ (p_0)= where G is the gravitational constant and c_s \equiv \sqrt is the isothermal sound speed The speed of sound is the distance travelled per unit of time by a sound wave as it propagates through an elastic medium. At , the speed of sound in air is about , or one kilometre in or one mile in . It depends strongly on temperature as wel ... (\gamma = 1) ...
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Adiabatic Index
In thermal physics and thermodynamics, the heat capacity ratio, also known as the adiabatic index, the ratio of specific heats, or Laplace's coefficient, is the ratio of the heat capacity at constant pressure () to heat capacity at constant volume (). It is sometimes also known as the ''isentropic expansion factor'' and is denoted by (gamma) for an ideal gasγ first appeared in an article by the French mathematician, engineer, and physicist Siméon Denis Poisson: * On p. 332, Poisson defines γ merely as a small deviation from equilibrium which causes small variations of the equilibrium value of the density ρ. In Poisson's article of 1823 – * γ was expressed as a function of density D (p. 8) or of pressure P (p. 9). Meanwhile, in 1816 the French mathematician and physicist Pierre-Simon Laplace had found that the speed of sound depends on the ratio of the specific heats. * However, he didn't denote the ratio as γ. In 1825, Laplace stated that the speed of sound is ...
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Equation Of State
In physics, chemistry, and thermodynamics, an equation of state is a thermodynamic equation relating state variables, which describe the state of matter under a given set of physical conditions, such as pressure, volume, temperature, or internal energy. Most modern equations of state are formulated in the Helmholtz free energy. Equations of state are useful in describing the properties of pure substances and mixtures in liquids, gases, and solid states as well as the state of matter in the interior of stars. Overview At present, there is no single equation of state that accurately predicts the properties of all substances under all conditions. An example of an equation of state correlates densities of gases and liquids to temperatures and pressures, known as the ideal gas law, which is roughly accurate for weakly polar gases at low pressures and moderate temperatures. This equation becomes increasingly inaccurate at higher pressures and lower temperatures, and fails to pred ...
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Polytrope
In astrophysics, a polytrope refers to a solution of the Lane–Emden equation in which the pressure depends upon the density in the form :P = K \rho^, where is pressure, is density and is a constant of proportionality. The constant is known as the polytropic index; note however that the polytropic index has an alternative definition as with ''n'' as the exponent. This relation need not be interpreted as an equation of state, which states ''P'' as a function of both ρ and ''T'' (the temperature); however in the particular case described by the polytrope equation there are other additional relations between these three quantities, which together determine the equation. Thus, this is simply a relation that expresses an assumption about the change of pressure with radius in terms of the change of density with radius, yielding a solution to the Lane–Emden equation. Sometimes the word ''polytrope'' may refer to an equation of state that looks similar to the thermodynam ...
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Ideal Gas
An ideal gas is a theoretical gas composed of many randomly moving point particles that are not subject to interparticle interactions. The ideal gas concept is useful because it obeys the ideal gas law, a simplified equation of state, and is amenable to analysis under statistical mechanics. The requirement of zero interaction can often be relaxed if, for example, the interaction is perfectly elastic or regarded as point-like collisions. Under various conditions of temperature and pressure, many real gases behave qualitatively like an ideal gas where the gas molecules (or atoms for monatomic gas) play the role of the ideal particles. Many gases such as nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, noble gases, some heavier gases like carbon dioxide and mixtures such as air, can be treated as ideal gases within reasonable tolerances over a considerable parameter range around standard temperature and pressure. Generally, a gas behaves more like an ideal gas at higher temperature and lower pressu ...
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Adiabatic Process
In thermodynamics, an adiabatic process (Greek: ''adiábatos'', "impassable") is a type of thermodynamic process that occurs without transferring heat or mass between the thermodynamic system and its environment. Unlike an isothermal process, an adiabatic process transfers energy to the surroundings only as work.. A translation may be founhere. Also a mostly reliabltranslation is to be foundin As a key concept in thermodynamics, the adiabatic process supports the theory that explains the first law of thermodynamics. Some chemical and physical processes occur too rapidly for energy to enter or leave the system as heat, allowing a convenient "adiabatic approximation".Bailyn, M. (1994), pp. 52–53. For example, the adiabatic flame temperature uses this approximation to calculate the upper limit of flame temperature by assuming combustion loses no heat to its surroundings. In meteorology and oceanography, adiabatic cooling produces condensation of moisture or salinity, o ...
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Sound Wave
In physics, sound is a vibration that propagates as an acoustic wave, through a transmission medium such as a gas, liquid or solid. In human physiology and psychology, sound is the ''reception'' of such waves and their ''perception'' by the brain. Only acoustic waves that have frequencies lying between about 20 Hz and 20 kHz, the audio frequency range, elicit an auditory percept in humans. In air at atmospheric pressure, these represent sound waves with wavelengths of to . Sound waves above 20  kHz are known as ultrasound and are not audible to humans. Sound waves below 20 Hz are known as infrasound. Different animal species have varying hearing ranges. Acoustics Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of mechanical waves in gasses, liquids, and solids including vibration, sound, ultrasound, and infrasound. A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an ''acoustician'', while someone working in the field of acoust ...
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Boltzmann's Constant
The Boltzmann constant ( or ) is the proportionality factor that relates the average relative kinetic energy of particles in a gas with the thermodynamic temperature of the gas. It occurs in the definitions of the kelvin and the gas constant, and in Planck's law of black-body radiation and Boltzmann's entropy formula, and is used in calculating thermal noise in resistors. The Boltzmann constant has dimensions of energy divided by temperature, the same as entropy. It is named after the Austrian scientist Ludwig Boltzmann. As part of the 2019 redefinition of SI base units, the Boltzmann constant is one of the seven " defining constants" that have been given exact definitions. They are used in various combinations to define the seven SI base units. The Boltzmann constant is defined to be exactly . Roles of the Boltzmann constant Macroscopically, the ideal gas law states that, for an ideal gas, the product of pressure and volume is proportional to the product of amount of ...
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Sir James Jeans
Sir James Hopwood Jeans (11 September 187716 September 1946) was an English physicist, astronomer and mathematician. Early life Born in Ormskirk, Lancashire, the son of William Tulloch Jeans, a parliamentary correspondent and author. Jeans was educated at Merchant Taylors' School, Wilson's Grammar School, Camberwell and Trinity College, Cambridge. As a gifted student, Jeans was counselled to take an aggressive approach to the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos competition: Career Jeans was elected Fellow of Trinity College in October 1901, and taught at Cambridge, but went to Princeton University in 1904 as a professor of applied mathematics. He returned to Cambridge in 1910. He made important contributions in many areas of physics, including quantum theory, the theory of radiation and stellar evolution. His analysis of rotating bodies led him to conclude that Pierre-Simon Laplace's theory that the solar system formed from a single cloud of gas was incorrect, proposing instea ...
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