Eclipsing Research

TCU astronomer Kat Barger shines a light on the Milky Way’s origins

About 4 1/2 billion years ago, at cosmic distances that are difficult to fathom, a star collapsed in on itself and exploded. Within 20 minutes of the core’s collapse, a shockwave streamed through the star’s surface in a burst of light that shone 130 million times brighter than the sun.

Gravity drew those gases together into what’s called a molecular cloud, pushing them closer and closer until they grew denser and collapsed, much like the supernova that produced them. As more gas collected, it started to spin, eventually flattening into a disk like a pancake. At its center burned the faint young sun.

Read more in TCU Magazine.