Download Video

Video Information

Subscribe to Series

07.24.06

Stars Can't Spin Out of Control

This artist's animation demonstrates how a dusty planet-forming disk can slow down a whirling young star, essentially saving the star from spinning itself to death. Evidence for this phenomenon comes from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.

The movie begins by showing a developing star (red ball). The star is basically a giant ball of gas that is collapsing onto itself. As it shrinks, it spins faster and faster, like a skater folding in his or her arms. The green lines represent magnetic fields.

As gravity continues to pull matter inward, the star spins so fast, it starts to flatten out. The same principle applies to the planet Saturn, whose spin has caused it to be slightly squashed or oblate.

A forming star can theoretically whip around fast enough to overcome gravity and flatten itself into a state where it can no longer become a full-fledged star. But stars don't spin out of control, possibly because swirling disks of dust slow them down. Such disks can be found orbiting young stars, and are filled with dust that might ultimately stick together to form planets.

The second half of the animation demonstrates how a disk is thought to keep its star's speed in check. A developing star is shown twirling inside its disk. As it turns, its magnetic fields pass through the disk and get bogged down like a spoon in molasses. This locks the star's rotation to the slower-turning disk, so the star, while continuing to shrink, does not spin faster.

Spitzer found evidence for star-slowing disks in a survey of nearly 500 forming stars in the Orion nebula. It observed that slowly spinning stars are five times more likely to host disks than rapidly spinning stars.

Browse Videos in Science Animations

2040100 per page

Details or Icons

Page-nav-left Page 2 of 4 Page-nav-right

Go to page

04.18.07

Infrared Rose

This movie begins by showing an optical image of the Rosette nebula, a turbulent star-forming region located 5,000 li...

Watch now

03.29.07

Two Suns Raise Family of Planetary Bodies

This artist's animation depicts a faraway solar system like our own -- except for one big difference. Planets and ast...

Watch now

02.21.07

Hot, Dry, and Cloudy (Artist Concept)

This artist's concept animation shows a cloudy Jupiter-like planet that orbits very close to its fiery hot star. NASA...

Watch now

12.18.06

Stars Spring Up Out of the Darkness

This artist's animation illustrates the universe's early years, from its explosive formation to its dark ages to its ...

Watch now

11.07.06

Hubble-Spitzer Orion

This video cycles between the Hubble view, the Spitzer view, and the combined Hubble-Spitzer view of the Orion Nebula.

Watch now

11.07.06

Making a Great Observatories Composite

This video shows how a Hubble image and a Spitzer image of the Orion Nebula were combined to create a new, multi-wave...

Watch now

10.30.06

Who Ya Gonna Call?

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope is a galactic ghost buster, spotting hidden massive stars and other monsters lurking i...

Watch now

10.26.06

Order Amidst Chaos of Star's Explosion

This artist's animation shows the explosion of a massive star, the remains of which are named Cassiopeia A. NASA's Sp...

Watch now

10.12.06

Fire and Ice Planet (without data plot)

This artist's animation shows a blistering world revolving around its nearby "sun." NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Tel...

Watch now

10.12.06

Fire and Ice Planet

This artist's animation shows a blistering world revolving around its nearby "sun." NASA's infrared Spitzer Space Tel...

Watch now

08.14.06

Journey to Orion

This movie begins with a visible view of the famous Orion constellation. Superimposed on the area near Orion's sword ...

Watch now

Now Playing

07.24.06

Stars Can't Spin Out of Control

This artist's animation demonstrates how a dusty planet-forming disk can slow down a whirling young star, essentially...

Watch now

06.05.06

Fade to Red

This animation shows the Andromeda galaxy, first as seen in visible light by the National Optical Astronomy Observato...

Watch now

04.05.06

Birth of 'Phoenix' Planets?

This artist's animation depicts the explosive death of a massive star, followed by the creation of a disk made up of ...

Watch now

03.16.06

Cigar Galaxy up in Smoke

This movie compares a visible-light view of the "Cigar galaxy" to an infrared view from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescop...

Watch now

06.09.05

The Cry of Cassiopeia A

This animation begins with a stunning false-color picture of the supernova remnant Cassiopeia A. It is made up of ima...

Watch now

06.02.05

Space Eyes See Comet Tempel 1

This artist's concept of Tempel 1 illustrates the comet's shape, reflectivity, rotation rate and surface temperature,...

Watch now

05.30.05

Carina in Context

This animation starts with an image of a larger but lower resolution image of the Carina Nebula from the Midcourse Sp...

Watch now

05.30.05

Pillars Behind the Dust

The movie begins with a visible-light picture of the southern region of our Milky Way galaxy then slowly zooms into t...

Watch now

05.04.05

A More Spectacular Sombrero

This movie shifts from the well-known visible-light picture of Messier 104 taken by the Hubble Space Telescope to inf...

Watch now