Aug 9, 2022

The physics of accretion: How the universe pulled itself together

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

To form a celestial object, start with a gas cloud and add gravity. Then, it gets complicated.

Accretion is one of the most fundamental processes in the cosmos. It is a universal phenomenon triggered by gravity, and the process by which bits of matter accumulate and coalesce with more bits of matter. It works inexorably on all scales to attract and affix smaller things to bigger things, from the tiniest dust grains to supermassive black holes.

Accretion creates everything there is: galaxies, stars, planets, and eventually, us. It is the reason the universe is filled with a whole bunch of somethings instead of a whole lot of nothing.

The fact that matter tends to glom together may seem intuitive. But to scientists, accretion remains a mysterious topic, filled with unanswered questions.

Comments are closed.