Monday, July 5, 2010

Types of Stars

The great majority of stars, including the Sun, are “dwarfs”. Only minority that is approaching death have swollen to become ‘giants’ or ‘super giants’. Stars vary in color according to their temperature, from the cooler red stars to the hottest blue or white stars. By comparing magnitude and color it is possible to classify stars.
If the core of the star forming gas cloud is less than a twelfth as massive as the Sun, nuclear reactions can never begin, and the object glows dimly as a reddish ball of gas, a so called “brown dwarf”. The search is on for brown dwarfs.
Star only slightly less massive than the Sun reddish, with surface temperatures of a few thousand degree C. they burn so slowly that they will live for hundreds of billions of years before fading away.
Stars of mass similar to the sun are called ‘yellow dwarfs’ because they give out most of their radiations as yellow light. The surface temperature of such star is similar to that of the Sun, about 6000 degree C, and its life time as a normal hydrogen burning star is about ten billion years. After this it will briefly extend its life by ‘burning’  helium into heavier nuclei in the core, swelling to hundreds of times its original diameter as red giant, with a cool surface,  but still intensely bright because of its huge size. As the helium runs low, a red giant grows unstable, and becomes a variable star, swelling and shrinking and becoming brighter and fainter as it does so. It puffs off shells of gas and finally a collapsed core is left behind as an extremely dense white dwarf, with the mass of a star squeezed into the volume of the Earth. Though hot, it is small and faint, and it continues to cool and fade.

 The most massive stars are about a hundred times as massive as the Sun. The most massive stars are about a hundred times as massive as the Sun. They burn fuel so quickly that they are blue hot, with surfaces over 25,000 degree C, and diameters ten times greater than the 1,390,000 Km of the Sun. they use up their fuel in a few millions years, rather than ten billion. Then they swell into giant or supergiant stars such as Antares. In their intensely hot, dense cores, they burn first helium and then heavier nuclei. They built a range of nuclei. In the last seconds of the star’s life it builds nuclei as heavy as those of iron. These cannot be burned, and the star, its internal power supply cut off, collapses and then explodes as a supernova.


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