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Year 10 Astronomy Definitions




A large system of stars held together by mutual gravitation and isolated from similar
systems by vast regions of space.
Also called diffuse nebula. A cloud of interstellar gas and dust.
A bright diffuse nebula that emits light as a result of ionization of its gas atoms by
ultraviolet radiation, as the Orion Nebula, planetary nebulae, and supernova
remnants, as the Crab Nebula.
An expanding shell of thin ionized gas that is ejected from and surrounds a hot, dying
star of about the same mass as the sun; the gas absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the
central star and reemits it as visible light by the process of fluorescence.
A star in an intermediate stage of evolution, characterized by a large volume, low
surface temperature, and reddish hue.
a star, approximately the size of the earth, that has undergone gravitational collapse
and is in the final stage of evolution for low-mass stars, beginning hot and white and
ending cold and dark (black dwarf).
The remains of a white dwarf star after it has expended all of its energy and is no
longer emitting detectable radiation.

Red Giant
White Dwarf
Black Dwarf
Brown Dwarf

Pulsating Star

A celestial body with insufficient mass to sustain the nuclear fusion that produces
radiant energy in normal stars, believed to have formed with enough mass to start
nuclear fusion in its core, but without enough for the fusion to become self-sustaining.
Variable star whose luminosity fluctuates as the star expands and contracts; the
variation in brightness is thought to come from the periodic change of radiant energy
to gravitational energy and back.

Binary Stars

Double Stars
Neutron Stars

A stellar system consisting of two stars orbiting about a common center of mass and
often appearing as a single visual or telescopic object. Also called double star.
a system of two stars that revolve around each other under their mutual gravitation.
A celestial body consisting of the superdense remains of a massive star that has
collapsed with sufficient force to push all of its electrons into the nuclei that they orbit,
thus leaving only neutrons, and having a powerful gravitational attraction from which
only neutrinos and high-energy photons can escape, rendering the body detectable
only by x-ray.

Any of several celestial radio sources emitting short intense bursts of radio waves, xrays, or visible electromagnetic radiation at regular intervals, generally believed to be
rotating neutron stars.

Black Hole

An extremely distant, and thus old, celestial object whose power output is several
thousand times that of our entire galaxy.
An area of space-time with a gravitational field so intense that its escape velocity is
equal to or exceeds the speed of light.

A star that suddenly becomes much brighter and then gradually returns to its original
brightness over a period of weeks to years.
A rare celestial phenomenon involving the explosion of most of the material in a star,
resulting in an extremely bright, short-lived object that emits vast amounts of energy.
Big Bang

Big Crunch

A cosmological theory holding that the universe originated approximately 20 billion

years ago from the violent explosion of a very small agglomeration of matter of
extremely high density and temperature.
A model of the future of the universe in which it stops expanding and ultimately
collapses on itself due to the force of gravity of its constituent parts. The point at
which such a collapse occurs.
An increase in the wavelength of radiation emitted by a celestial body as a


consequence of the Doppler effect.

A distinct phase of matter, separate from the traditional solids, liquids, and gases. It is
a collection of charged particles that respond strongly and collectively to
electromagnetic fields, taking the form of gas-like clouds or ion beams. Since the
particles in plasma are electrically charged (generally by being stripped of electrons),
it is frequently described as an "ionized gas."