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The Life Cycle of a Star What is a Star? u A star is large sphere of matter undergoing nuclear fusion. u Stars give off large amounts of energy in the.

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Presentation on theme: "The Life Cycle of a Star What is a Star? u A star is large sphere of matter undergoing nuclear fusion. u Stars give off large amounts of energy in the."— Presentation transcript:

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2 The Life Cycle of a Star

3 What is a Star? u A star is large sphere of matter undergoing nuclear fusion. u Stars give off large amounts of energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation. X-ray image of the Sun

4 A Star is Born…. u Stars are formed in a Nebula. u A Nebula is a very large cloud of gas and dust in space.

5 Protostars u Dense areas of gas in the nebula become more dense due to gravity. u Soon the dense areas of gas take on a definite shape and are called protostars.

6 Protostars u As more gas is added to a protostar, the pressure in its core increases. u The increased pressure causes the gas molecules to move faster, increasing friction. u As friction increases, heat is generated and the temperature of the protostars core increases.

7 A new star!! u Once the core of a protostar reaches 27,000,000 o F, nuclear fusion begins and the protostar ignites. u The protostar now becomes a star. The bright spot is a new star igniting

8 Nuclear Fusion u Nuclear Fusion is the process by which two nuclei combine to form a heavier element. u New stars initially will fuse hydrogen nuclei together to form helium. H + H  He + Energy

9 Main Sequence Stars u Once the star has ignited, it becomes a Main Sequence star. u Main Sequence stars fuse hydrogen to form helium, releasing enormous amounts of energy. u It takes about 10 billion years to consume all the hydrogen in a medium sized Main Sequence star. Our sun is a medium sized main sequence star that is halfway through its life.

10 Balancing Act The core of a star is where the heat is generated. The radiative and conductive zones move energy out from the center of the star. Because of gravity, the incredible weight of of the gas tries to collapse the star on its core.

11 Unbalanced Forces As long as there is a nuclear reaction taking place, the internal forces will balance the external forces. When the hydrogen in a main sequence star is consumed, fusion stops and the forces suddenly become unbalanced. Mass and gravity cause the remaining gas to collapse on the core.

12 Red Giant u Collapsing outer layers cause core to heat up. u fusion of helium into carbon begins. u Forces regain balance. u Outer shell expands from 1 to at least 40 million miles across. ( 10 to 100 times larger than the Sun) u Red Giants last for about 100 million years.

13 Unbalanced Forces (again) u When the Red Giant has fused all of the helium into carbon, the forces acting on the star are again unbalanced. u The massive outer layers of the star again rush into the core, generating staggering amounts of energy. u What happens next depends on how much mass the star has.

14 White Dwarfs u The pressure exerted on the core by the outer layers does not produce enough energy to start carbon fusion. u The core is now very dense and very hot. (A tablespoon full would weigh 5 tons!) u A white dwarf is about 8,000 miles in diameter. u After 35,000 years, the core begins to cool.

15 Black Dwarfs u As the white dwarf cools, the light it gives off will fade through the visible light spectrum, blue to red to black (no light). u A black dwarf will continue to generate gravity and low energy transmissions (radio waves).

16 Red Supergiants u If the mass of a star is 3 times that of our sun or greater, then the Red Giant will become a Red Supergiant. u When a massive Red Giant fuses all of the helium into carbon, fusion stops and the outer layers collapse on the core. u This time, there is enough mass to get the core hot enough to start the fusion of carbon into iron.

17 Red Supergiants u Once fusion begins, the star will expand to be between 10 and 1000 times larger than our sun. A star this large would consume all the planets in our solar system.

18 Supernova u When a Supergiant fuses all of the Carbon into Iron, there is no more fuel left to consume. u The Core of the supergiant will then collapse in less than a second, causing a massive explosion called a supernova. u In a supernova, a massive shockwave is produced that blows away the outer layers of the star. u Supernova shine brighter than whole galaxies for a few years.

19 Neutron Star u Sometimes the core will survive the supernova. u If the surviving core has a mass of less than 3 solar masses, then the core becomes a neutron star.

20 Black Holes u If the mass of the surviving core is greater than 3 solar masses, then a black hole forms. u A black hole is a core so dense and massive that it will generate so much gravity that not even light can escape it. Since light can’t escape a black hole, it is hard to tell what they look like or how they work.

21 Mass Matters Main Sequence Small & Medium Mass Stars White Dwarf Black Dwarf High Mass Stars Red Supergiant Supernova Neutron StarBlack Hole Red Giant


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