Nebula’s are not only beautiful things to look at but they’re also quite magical! While we can’t just head on up into space and look at them on a daily basis, you can make your own wee Nebula in a Jar which is the next best thing!
What is a Nebula?
Nebulas are massive clouds of dust, plasma, hydrogen and helium and are called stellar nurseries because that’s where stars are born. This mixture of dust, plasma, hydrogen and helium is called Interstellar Medium.
There are a few different ways that Nebula’s can form.One way is due to bits of Interstellar Medium undergoing gravitational collapse. The mutual gravitational attraction between the matter then clump together which forms regions of greater and greater density and from this, stars can form in the middle. When you see a picture of a Nebula, you might not think it’s all that big BUT, Nebulas are huge and can measure hundreds of lightyears in size.
The NGC 604 Nebula is 1520 lightyears in size. To put that into perspecitve that is 14380720000000000 kms.. which is a really big number and a really bloody big Nebula!
Although Nebula’s are denser than the space surrounding them, they are less dense than the vacuum created by on our beautiful Earth. A Nebula that is the same size as Earth or the Moon, would only have a mass that weighs a few kilograms because of what it is made of.
What you’ll need
– mason jars or jars with screw top lids
– food colouring
– a bag o’ cotton balls
What to do
– Fill a couple of glasses of water and add a few drops of food colouring. Give it a stir.
– Grab your mason jar/s and pop 8-10 cotton balls in the bottom and sprinkle with a little glitter.
– Pour enough coloured water over the cotton balls until it is just covering them. Repeat the cotton ball, glitter and coloured water, alternating the coloured water colour for each layer until your jar is full.
– Pop the lid on tight and voila! You’ve got yourself a Nebula in a Jar. Be careful not shake it or the colours will mix! Pop it on a shelf or on the window sill to catch the light.