View Full Version : Tolerable interstellar space conjecture?

2011-Jan-06, 01:28 AM
I wonder if this is physically possible, within what we know of the cosmos...

Suppose that there is an extremely large interstellar cloud of Oxygen molecules, intermixed with Nitrogen molecules at an approximate ratio favorable to respiration. Further suppose that this cloud of mixed gasses is large enough to begin collapsing under it's own gravity.

Is it possible that:
A human space traveler could find a place inside this collapsing cloud, at a certain point along the time line of it's gravitational collapse, where the ambient pressure (due to the gravity of the cloud) was similar to that of the surface pressure on the earth...and further, by whatever means possible (be it the effects of pressure, heat of a nearby star, or whatever), the ambient temperature at this certain point in the cloud is approximately 60 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit; thus enabling the space traveler to venture outside the space craft without the aid of any sort of "space-suit" whatsoever.

Of course, this all assumes harmful interstellar radiation aside.

But I have often wondered if this particular condition could actually exist somewhere in our universe.

Is this possible or am I missing something here?

2011-Jan-06, 06:01 AM
The big problem would be the cooling needed. A collapsing cloud should be alot hotter at one atmo pressure. Radiation shouldnt be all that much of a problem. Even if it was near an odd protostar, if the temp was around 300K and pressure around an atmo, then any radiation would prolly be scattered to harmlessness.

Larry Niven had a book where that sort of environment was in orbit around a neutron star. The Integral Trees was the name.

2011-Jan-06, 08:03 AM
Hey, welcome to BAUT, <b>Langecrew</b>. What a great thing to imagine! I'm wondering what you'd see -- if it would just be a haze or if you'd see stars, or what??

2011-Jan-06, 10:35 AM
Larry Niven conjectured a number of other environments like the Smoke Ring, in his essay "Bigger than Worlds", published in "A hole in space".

From memory, as I can't find my copy, that included 'galactic Dyson spheres' that contained a breathable atmosphere, but a gravity field that was so flat as to be almost not there.


2011-Jan-06, 02:35 PM
1/2 to 2 atmospheres of pressure likely occurs briefly in every collapsing cloud, but the ideal pressure locations move rather rapidly away from the center. It appears unlikely that the oxygen/nitrogen mixture would not be contaminated with harmful compounds and particles, including ions, atomic oxygen and atomic nitrogen (not O2 and N2). If the collapse was progressing very slowly (13.7 billion years may not be slow enough) the temperature could also be optimum, instead of too hot.
I suppose the polutants could be only moderately harmful, instead of deadly. Neil

2011-Jan-06, 08:43 PM
You could constrain things in very implausible ways and get more or less what you're suggesting, with the bonus that cosmic radiation would be stopped the same way our atmosphere stops it. One giant negative would be that during such a collapse, the medium would likely be extremely turbulent, so it would take some doing to be just floating/flying around. I also would rule out some danger from electrical and magnetic storms.