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The dark area in Fig that appears devoid of stars is a dark nebula, a cold gas cloud in interstellar space that contains enough material to block out light from the stars behind it. A typical dark nebula is about 20 light-years in diameter and contains about 50 hydrogen atoms per cubic centimeter (monatomic hydrogen, not ) at about . (A light-year is the distance light travels in vacuum in one year and is equal to .) Estimate the rms speed of a hydrogen atom and the mean free time (the average time between collisions for a given atom). Based on this result, do you think that atomic collisions, such as those leading to molecule formation, are very important in determining the composition of the nebula?
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