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The Life Cycle of Stars

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by

Dan Chronis

on 26 April 2017

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Transcript of The Life Cycle of Stars

The collapsing
nebula
begins to spin and heat up.
It is now called a
protostar
.
When the protostar's core heats up to
18 million degrees ...
a
star
is born!
Main sequence
stars have a temperature and brightness related to their mass.
In the beginning:
A cloud of dust and gas called a
nebula

begins to condense due to
gravity
.

All stars eventually run out of fuel.
The compression causes it to heat up becoming hot enough to begin fusion of
helium
.

When gravity and heat finally balance out, the star enters its
main sequence
.
The Life Cycle of Stars
From this point, the fate of the star depends upon its mass.
Stars burning helium swell to become
Red Giants
or
Super Giants
.
Gravity begins to win the war with heat.
Stars burning helium eventually run out of fuel again.
At this point, the young star burns very hot with violent
solar winds
.
Low mass stars
High mass stars
As the star runs out of fuel again it begins to compress due to gravity.
This time it can not muster enough heat to burn heavier elements, so it continues its collapse to become a
white dwarf
.
The red giant often loses its outer atmosphere as it shrinks, forming beautiful
planetary nebulae
.
White dwarf stars only shine with the leftover heat from nuclear fires now long dead.
After billions of years no heat remains, and the dwarf no longer shines. This is a
black dwarf.
As the massive star runs out of helium, it shrinks due to gravity.
But this time, the greater mass creates enough heat to burn heavier elements than helium.
The giant star creates heavier and heavier elements until
Fe
(iron), which it cannot burn. The iron builds up a core that the star cannot burn.
The iron core becomes unstable and collapses in a tremendous explosion called a
supernova.
After the explosion, the remaining core of the star is subject to
gravity's
persistent force.
The explosion blows much of the atmosphere of the star into space creating a new
nebula
.
If the core has a mass of less than about 3
solar masses (S.M.)
it will collapse into a
neutron star
.
If the remaining core has a mass of more than about 3 S.M. it will collapse out of existence forming a
black hole
.
As the star develops,

gravity and heat

begin the battle they
fight inside each star.
Gravity is constantly pushing in trying to crush the star.
Heat is constantly pushing out.
The new nebula contains the elements that will be incorporated into new stars and
solar systems
.
See it? Me neither.
N
O
C
Ne
Mg
Si
S
Ni
So how are elements heavier than iron created??
For more info on main sequence stars, click here.
Ever wonder what it would be like to fall into a black hole? Click here.
Full transcript