Essay: Of Nebulas, Massive Clouds

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[. . .] Large stars can burn out faster than small stars because they burn energy at a higher rate. This is why many small stars will have a longer life span than a larger star: they do not consume their fuel as fast and thus remain alive longer. When the star stars to burn up its helium reserves, the star is on its last years of its life. This is because it requires more energy to fuse helium than it does hydrogen, thus expending the star's energy rapidly. When the star starts burning helium, its temperature and intensity can be stronger than ever before during its life cycle. This stage of the star's life is referred to as the red giant stage. Red giants are bright but are becoming less stable than they were before. Their volatility is due to their burning of carbon. The death of stars is difficult to document and measure.

A Hertzsprung-Russel (HR) Diagram represents stars visually as dots, plotted on a graph using two axes: absolute magnitude (which is basically luminosity, measured in energy emissions per second), and surface temperature measured in Kelvin. What the HR Diagram is especially good for is showing the relational values of the stars' luminosity and temperature. The reference point for the HR diagram is the sun, which provides a means by which to visualize the magnitude or temperature of other stars in relation to it. Basically, stars are ranked according to relative hotness and brightness. Most stars fall within a median range called main sequence, which is akin to the average of stars. Tjhis is because most stars follow a predictable pattern in that large stars can burn bright and hot. Some, but not all, HR Diagrams, also include factors like the color of a star, measured with spectrophotometers.

Reference

"Star Life Cycle." Retrieved online: http://sunshine.chpc.utah.edu/Labs/StarLife/starlife_main.html [END OF PREVIEW]

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