Explain why a protostar heats up internally as it gravitationally contracts?
Conservation of Energy
Conservation of energy is a principle that states that energy can be neither created nor destroyed. It can be used to analyze problems involving systems in which energy may be in different forms.
Answer and Explanation:
There are a couple of ways to think about this situation, but the simplest is to look at it through the lens of conservation of energy. As the...
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There are a couple of ways to think about this situation, but the simplest is to look at it through the lens of conservation of energy. As the gas/dust particles of the protostar contract, they are reducing their gravitational potential energy. That energy must go somewhere. It cannot cause a change in the overall velocity of the protostar because conservation of momentum forbids this. It could go to a few other forms, i.e. radiation, but these end up being insignificant. Instead, most of the gravitational potential energy is converted to thermal energy, and the protostar heats up.
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from CLEP Natural Sciences: Study Guide & Test PrepChapter 9 / Lesson 3