Download Video

Video Information

Subscribe to Series

04.18.07

Highway to the Danger Zone

"The further on the edge, the hotter the intensity," sings Kenny Loggins in "Danger Zone," a song made famous by the movie Top Gun. The same words ring true for young, cooler stars like our sun that live in the danger zones around scorching hot stars, called O-stars. The closer a young, maverick star happens to be to a super hot O-star, the more likely its burgeoning planets will be blasted into space.

This artist's animation illustrates how this process works. The movie begins by showing an O-star in a murky star-forming region. It then pans out to show a young, cooler star and its swirling disk of planet-forming material. Disks like this one, called protoplanetary disks, are where planets are born. Gas and dust in a disk clumps together into tiny balls that sweep through the material, growing in size to eventually become full-grown planets.

The young star happens to lie within the "danger zone" around the O-star, which means that it is too close to the hot star to keep its disk. Radiation and winds from the O-star boil and blow away the material, respectively. This process, called photoevaporation, is sped up here but takes anywhere from 100,000 to about 1,000,000 years. Without a disk, the young star will not be able to produce planets.

Our own sun and its suite of planets might have grown up on the edge of an O-star's danger zone before migrating to its current, spacious home. However, we know that our young sun didn't linger for too long in any hazardous territory, or our planets, and life, wouldn't be here today.

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope surveyed the danger zones around five O-stars in the Rosette nebula. It was able to determine that the zones are spheres with a radius of approximately 1.6 light-years, or 10 trillion miles.

Browse Videos in Science Animations

2040100 per page

Details or Icons

Page-nav-left-disabled Page 1 of 4 Page-nav-right

Go to page

03.20.14

Panning Through the Milky Way

This video shows a continually looping view of the Spitzer Space Telescope's new infrared view of our Milky Way Galaxy.

Watch now

07.18.12

Flying Out to GJ 436 and its Planets

Starting from Earth, we quickly zoom out of the solar system into our sun's local neighborhood, populated by the clos...

Watch now

05.08.12

Super Earth Reveals Itself to Spitzer (Narrated)

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has, for the first time, captured the light emanating from a distant super Earth, a pl...

Watch now

05.08.12

Super Earth Reveals Itself to Spitzer

NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope has, for the first time, captured the light emanating from a distant super Earth, a pl...

Watch now

10.19.10

Weird Warm Spot on Exoplanet

This animation illustrates an unexpected warm spot on the surface of a gaseous exoplanet. NASA's Spitzer Space Telesc...

Watch now

10.19.10

Weird Warm Spot on Exoplanet (Narrated)

This animation illustrates an unexpected warm spot on the surface of a gaseous exoplanet. NASA's Spitzer Space Telesc...

Watch now

10.06.09

Saturn Family Tour

This video showcases the Saturnian system, beginning with the planet itself and panning out to its newest addition --...

Watch now

08.10.09

Planetary Demolition Derby

This artist's animation shows a celestial body about the size of our moon slamming at great speed into a body the siz...

Watch now

06.04.09

Tour of Planet with Extreme Temperature Swings

This animation shows a computer simulation of the planet HD 80606b from an observer located at a point in space lying...

Watch now

06.04.09

Silicate Crystal Formation in the Disk of an Erupting Star

This artist's animation illustrates how silicate crystals like those found in comets can be created by an outburst fr...

Watch now

07.15.08

Zooming in on Second-Brightest Star in Milky Way

This movie zooms in to reveal the "Peony nebula" star -- the new second-brightest star in the Milky Way, discovered i...

Watch now

05.05.08

Dissecting a Light Echo

This animation illustrates how a light echo works, and how an optical illusion of material moving outward is created....

Watch now

05.05.08

Cauldron of Light

In this animation, a seething cauldron of light appears to bubble and ooze around the remains of a giant star that as...

Watch now

11.29.07

Pulling Back the Curtain of Dust

This artist's animation begins by showing a dark and dusty corner of space where little visible light can escape. The...

Watch now

05.09.07

Blacker than Black

This artist's animation illustrates the hottest planet yet observed in the universe. The scorching ball of gas, a "ho...

Watch now

05.09.07

Mapping Exotic Worlds

This animation shows the first-ever map of the surface of an exoplanet, or a planet beyond our solar system. The map,...

Watch now

05.09.07

How to Map a Very Faraway Planet

Scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope were able to create the first-ever map of the surface of a planet bey...

Watch now

Now Playing

04.18.07

Highway to the Danger Zone

"The further on the edge, the hotter the intensity," sings Kenny Loggins in "Danger Zone," a song made famous by the ...

Watch now