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Star
FromWikipedia,thefreeencyclopedia

Astarisaluminoussphereofplasmaheldtogetherbyitsowngravity.The
neareststartoEarthistheSun.Manyotherstarsarevisibletothenaked
eyefromEarthduringthenight,appearingasamultitudeoffixedluminous
pointsintheskyduetotheirimmensedistancefromEarth.Historically,the
mostprominentstarsweregroupedintoconstellationsandasterisms,the
brightestofwhichgainedpropernames.Astronomershaveassembledstar
cataloguesthatidentifytheknownstarsandprovidestandardizedstellar
designations.However,mostofthestarsintheUniverse,includingallstars
outsideourgalaxy,theMilkyWay,areinvisibletothenakedeyefrom
Earth.Indeed,mostareinvisiblefromEartheventhroughthemost
powerfultelescopes.
Foratleastaportionofitslife,astarshinesduetothermonuclearfusionof
hydrogenintoheliuminitscore,releasingenergythattraversesthestar's
interiorandthenradiatesintoouterspace.Almostallnaturallyoccurring
elementsheavierthanheliumarecreatedbystellarnucleosynthesisduring
thestar'slifetime,andforsomestarsbysupernovanucleosynthesiswhenit
explodes.Neartheendofitslife,astarcanalsocontaindegeneratematter.
Astronomerscandeterminethemass,age,metallicity(chemical
composition),andmanyotherpropertiesofastarbyobservingitsmotion
throughspace,itsluminosity,andspectrumrespectively.Thetotalmassof
astaristhemainfactorthatdeterminesitsevolutionandeventualfate.
Othercharacteristicsofastar,includingdiameterandtemperature,change
overitslife,whilethestar'senvironmentaffectsitsrotationandmovement.
Aplotofthetemperatureofmanystarsagainsttheirluminositiesproduces
aplotknownasaHertzsprungRusselldiagram(HRdiagram).Plottinga
particularstaronthatdiagramallowstheageandevolutionarystateofthat
startobedetermined.

AstarformingregionintheLarge
MagellanicCloud.

FalsecolorimageryoftheSun,aG
typemainsequencestar,theclosestto
Earth

Astar'slifebeginswiththegravitationalcollapseofagaseousnebulaofmaterialcomposedprimarilyofhydrogen,
alongwithheliumandtraceamountsofheavierelements.Whenthestellarcoreissufficientlydense,hydrogen
becomessteadilyconvertedintoheliumthroughnuclearfusion,releasingenergyintheprocess.[1]Theremainder
ofthestar'sinteriorcarriesenergyawayfromthecorethroughacombinationofradiativeandconvectiveheat
transferprocesses.Thestar'sinternalpressurepreventsitfromcollapsingfurtherunderitsowngravity.Astarwith
massgreaterthan0.4timestheSun'swillexpandtobecomearedgiantwhenthehydrogenfuelinitscoreis
exhausted.[2]Insomecases,itwillfuseheavierelementsatthecoreorinshellsaroundthecore.Asthestar
expandsitthrowsapartofitsmass,enrichedwiththoseheavierelements,intotheinterstellarenvironment,tobe
recycledlaterasnewstars.[3]Meanwhile,thecorebecomesastellarremnant:awhitedwarf,aneutronstar,orifit
issufficientlymassiveablackhole.
Binaryandmultistarsystemsconsistoftwoormorestarsthataregravitationallyboundandgenerallymove
aroundeachotherinstableorbits.Whentwosuchstarshavearelativelycloseorbit,theirgravitationalinteraction
canhaveasignificantimpactontheirevolution.[4]Starscanformpartofamuchlargergravitationallybound
structure,suchasastarclusteroragalaxy.
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Contents
1
2
3
4

Observationhistory
Designations
Unitsofmeasurement
Formationandevolution
4.1 Starformation
4.2 Mainsequence
4.3 Postmainsequence
4.3.1 Massivestars
4.3.2 Collapse
4.3.3 Binarystars
5 Distribution
6 Characteristics
6.1 Age
6.2 Chemicalcomposition
6.3 Diameter
6.4 Kinematics
6.5 Magneticfield
6.6 Mass
6.7 Rotation
6.8 Temperature
7 Radiation
7.1 Luminosity
7.2 Magnitude
8 Classification
9 Variablestars
10 Structure
11 Nuclearfusionreactionpathways
12 Seealso
13 References
14 Furtherreading
15 Externallinks

Observationhistory
Historically,starshavebeenimportanttocivilizationsthroughouttheworld.Theyhavebeenpartofreligious
practicesandusedforcelestialnavigationandorientation.Manyancientastronomersbelievedthatstarswere
permanentlyaffixedtoaheavenlysphereandthattheywereimmutable.Byconvention,astronomersgroupedstars
intoconstellationsandusedthemtotrackthemotionsoftheplanetsandtheinferredpositionoftheSun.[5]The
motionoftheSunagainstthebackgroundstars(andthehorizon)wasusedtocreatecalendars,whichcouldbe
usedtoregulateagriculturalpractices.[7]TheGregoriancalendar,currentlyusednearlyeverywhereintheworld,is
asolarcalendarbasedontheangleoftheEarth'srotationalaxisrelativetoitslocalstar,theSun.
TheoldestaccuratelydatedstarchartwastheresultofancientEgyptianastronomyin1534BC.[8]Theearliest
knownstarcatalogueswerecompiledbytheancientBabylonianastronomersofMesopotamiainthelate2nd
millenniumBC,duringtheKassitePeriod(ca.15311155BC).[9]

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ThefirststarcatalogueinGreekastronomywascreatedbyAristillusin
approximately300BC,withthehelpofTimocharis.[10]Thestarcatalogof
Hipparchus(2ndcenturyBC)included1020stars,andwasusedto
assemblePtolemy'sstarcatalogue.[11]Hipparchusisknownforthe
discoveryofthefirstrecordednova(newstar).[12]Manyofthe
constellationsandstarnamesinusetodayderivefromGreekastronomy.
Inspiteoftheapparentimmutabilityoftheheavens,Chineseastronomers
wereawarethatnewstarscouldappear.[13]In185AD,theywerethefirst
toobserveandwriteaboutasupernova,nowknownastheSN185.[14]The
brighteststellareventinrecordedhistorywastheSN1006supernova,
whichwasobservedin1006andwrittenaboutbytheEgyptianastronomer
AliibnRidwanandseveralChineseastronomers.[15]TheSN1054
supernova,whichgavebirthtotheCrabNebula,wasalsoobservedby
ChineseandIslamicastronomers.[16][17][18]

Peoplehaveseenpatternsinthestars
sinceancienttimes. [5]This1690
depictionoftheconstellationofLeo,
thelion,isbyJohannesHevelius. [6]

MedievalIslamicastronomersgaveArabicnamestomanystarsthatare
stillusedtodayandtheyinventednumerousastronomicalinstrumentsthat
couldcomputethepositionsofthestars.Theybuiltthefirstlarge
observatoryresearchinstitutes,mainlyforthepurposeofproducingZijstar
catalogues.[19]Amongthese,theBookofFixedStars(964)waswrittenby
thePersianastronomerAbdalRahmanalSufi,whoobservedanumberof
stars,starclusters(includingtheOmicronVelorumandBrocchi'sClusters)
andgalaxies(includingtheAndromedaGalaxy).[20]AccordingtoA.
Zahoor,inthe11thcentury,thePersianpolymathscholarAbuRayhan
BirunidescribedtheMilkyWaygalaxyasamultitudeoffragmentshaving
thepropertiesofnebulousstars,andalsogavethelatitudesofvariousstars
duringalunareclipsein1019.[21]
AccordingtoJosepPuig,theAndalusianastronomerIbnBajjahproposed
thattheMilkyWaywasmadeupofmanystarsthatalmosttouchedone
anotherandappearedtobeacontinuousimageduetotheeffectof
TheconstellationofLeoasitcanbe
refractionfromsublunarymaterial,citinghisobservationofthe
seenbythenakedeye.Lineshave
conjunctionofJupiterandMarson500AH(1106/1107AD)as
beenadded.
evidence.[22]EarlyEuropeanastronomerssuchasTychoBraheidentified
newstarsinthenightsky(latertermednovae),suggestingthattheheavens
werenotimmutable.In1584GiordanoBrunosuggestedthatthestarswereliketheSun,andmayhaveother
planets,possiblyevenEarthlike,inorbitaroundthem,[23]anideathathadbeensuggestedearlierbytheancient
Greekphilosophers,DemocritusandEpicurus,[24]andbymedievalIslamiccosmologists[25]suchasFakhralDin
alRazi.[26]Bythefollowingcentury,theideaofthestarsbeingthesameastheSunwasreachingaconsensus
amongastronomers.ToexplainwhythesestarsexertednonetgravitationalpullontheSolarSystem,Isaac
Newtonsuggestedthatthestarswereequallydistributedineverydirection,anideapromptedbythetheologian
RichardBentley.[27]
TheItalianastronomerGeminianoMontanarirecordedobservingvariationsinluminosityofthestarAlgolin
1667.EdmondHalleypublishedthefirstmeasurementsofthepropermotionofapairofnearby"fixed"stars,
demonstratingthattheyhadchangedpositionssincethetimeoftheancientGreekastronomersPtolemyand
Hipparchus.[23]
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WilliamHerschelwasthefirstastronomertoattempttodeterminethedistributionofstarsinthesky.Duringthe
1780sheestablishedaseriesofgaugesin600directionsandcountedthestarsobservedalongeachlineofsight.
Fromthishededucedthatthenumberofstarssteadilyincreasedtowardonesideofthesky,inthedirectionofthe
MilkyWaycore.HissonJohnHerschelrepeatedthisstudyinthesouthernhemisphereandfoundacorresponding
increaseinthesamedirection.[28]Inadditiontohisotheraccomplishments,WilliamHerschelisalsonotedforhis
discoverythatsomestarsdonotmerelyliealongthesamelineofsight,butarealsophysicalcompanionsthatform
binarystarsystems.
ThescienceofstellarspectroscopywaspioneeredbyJosephvonFraunhoferandAngeloSecchi.Bycomparingthe
spectraofstarssuchasSiriustotheSun,theyfounddifferencesinthestrengthandnumberoftheirabsorption
linesthedarklinesinastellarspectracausedbytheatmosphere'sabsorptionofspecificfrequencies.In1865
Secchibeganclassifyingstarsintospectraltypes.[29]However,themodernversionofthestellarclassification
schemewasdevelopedbyAnnieJ.Cannonduringthe1900s.
Thefirstdirectmeasurementofthedistancetoastar(61Cygniat11.4
lightyears)wasmadein1838byFriedrichBesselusingtheparallax
technique.Parallaxmeasurementsdemonstratedthevastseparationofthe
starsintheheavens.[23]Observationofdoublestarsgainedincreasing
importanceduringthe19thcentury.In1834,FriedrichBesselobserved
changesinthepropermotionofthestarSiriusandinferredahidden
companion.EdwardPickeringdiscoveredthefirstspectroscopicbinaryin
AlphaCentauriAandBoverlimbof
1899whenheobservedtheperiodicsplittingofthespectrallinesofthestar
Saturn
Mizarina104dayperiod.Detailedobservationsofmanybinarystar
systemswerecollectedbyastronomerssuchasWilliamStruveandS.W.
Burnham,allowingthemassesofstarstobedeterminedfromcomputationoforbitalelements.Thefirstsolutionto
theproblemofderivinganorbitofbinarystarsfromtelescopeobservationswasmadebyFelixSavaryin1827.[30]
Thetwentiethcenturysawincreasinglyrapidadvancesinthescientificstudyofstars.Thephotographbecamea
valuableastronomicaltool.KarlSchwarzschilddiscoveredthatthecolorofastarand,hence,itstemperature,
couldbedeterminedbycomparingthevisualmagnitudeagainstthephotographicmagnitude.Thedevelopmentof
thephotoelectricphotometerallowedprecisemeasurementsofmagnitudeatmultiplewavelengthintervals.In
1921AlbertA.MichelsonmadethefirstmeasurementsofastellardiameterusinganinterferometerontheHooker
telescopeatMountWilsonObservatory.[31]
Importanttheoreticalworkonthephysicalstructureofstarsoccurredduringthefirstdecadesofthetwentieth
century.In1913,theHertzsprungRusselldiagramwasdeveloped,propellingtheastrophysicalstudyofstars.
Successfulmodelsweredevelopedtoexplaintheinteriorsofstarsandstellarevolution.CeciliaPayneGaposchkin
firstproposedthatstarsweremadeprimarilyofhydrogenandheliuminher1925PhDthesis.[32]Thespectraof
starswerefurtherunderstoodthroughadvancesinquantumphysics.Thisallowedthechemicalcompositionofthe
stellaratmospheretobedetermined.[33]
Withtheexceptionofsupernovae,individualstarshaveprimarilybeenobservedintheLocalGroup,[34]and
especiallyinthevisiblepartoftheMilkyWay(asdemonstratedbythedetailedstarcataloguesavailableforour
galaxy).[35]ButsomestarshavebeenobservedintheM100galaxyoftheVirgoCluster,about100millionlight
yearsfromtheEarth.[36]IntheLocalSuperclusteritispossibletoseestarclusters,andcurrenttelescopescouldin
principleobservefaintindividualstarsintheLocalGroup[37](seeCepheids).However,outsidetheLocal
Superclusterofgalaxies,neitherindividualstarsnorclustersofstarshavebeenobserved.Theonlyexceptionisa
faintimageofalargestarclustercontaininghundredsofthousandsofstarslocatedatadistanceofonebillionlight
years[38]tentimesfurtherthanthemostdistantstarclusterpreviouslyobserved.
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Designations
TheconceptofaconstellationwasknowntoexistduringtheBabylonian
period.Ancientskywatchersimaginedthatprominentarrangementsof
starsformedpatterns,andtheyassociatedthesewithparticularaspectsof
natureortheirmyths.Twelveoftheseformationslayalongthebandofthe
eclipticandthesebecamethebasisofastrology.[39]Manyofthemore
prominentindividualstarswerealsogivennames,particularlywithArabic
orLatindesignations.
AswellascertainconstellationsandtheSunitself,individualstarshave
theirownmyths.[40]TotheAncientGreeks,some"stars",knownasplanets
(Greek(plants),meaning"wanderer"),representedvarious
importantdeities,fromwhichthenamesoftheplanetsMercury,Venus,
Mars,JupiterandSaturnweretaken.[40](UranusandNeptunewerealso
GreekandRomangods,butneitherplanetwasknowninAntiquitybecause
oftheirlowbrightness.Theirnameswereassignedbylaterastronomers.)

Thisviewcontainsbluestarsknown
as"Bluestragglers",fortheir
apparentlocationontheHertzsprung
Russelldiagram

Circa1600,thenamesoftheconstellationswereusedtonamethestarsinthecorrespondingregionsofthesky.
TheGermanastronomerJohannBayercreatedaseriesofstarmapsandappliedGreeklettersasdesignationstothe
starsineachconstellation.Lateranumberingsystembasedonthestar'srightascensionwasinventedandaddedto
JohnFlamsteed'sstarcatalogueinhisbook"HistoriacoelestisBritannica"(the1712edition),wherebythis
numberingsystemcametobecalledFlamsteeddesignationorFlamsteednumbering.[41][42]
TheonlyinternationallyrecognizedauthorityfornamingcelestialbodiesistheInternationalAstronomicalUnion
(IAU).[43]TheInternationalAstronomicalUnionmaintainstheWorkingGrouponStarNames(WGSN)[44]which
catalogsandstandardizespropernamesforstars.Anumberofprivatecompaniessellnamesofstars,whichthe
BritishLibrarycallsanunregulatedcommercialenterprise.[45][46]TheIAUhasdisassociateditselffromthis
commercialpractice,andthesenamesareneitherrecognizedbytheIAU,professionalastronomers,northe
amateurastronomycommunity.[47]OnesuchstarnamingcompanyistheInternationalStarRegistry,which,during
the1980s,wasaccusedofdeceptivepracticeformakingitappearthattheassignednamewasofficial.Thisnow
discontinuedISRpracticewasinformallylabeledascamandafraud,[48][49][50][51]andtheNewYorkCity
DepartmentofConsumerAffairsissuedaviolationagainstISRforengaginginadeceptivetradepractice.[52][53]

Unitsofmeasurement
AlthoughstellarparameterscanbeexpressedinSIunitsorCGSunits,itisoftenmostconvenienttoexpressmass,
luminosity,andradiiinsolarunits,basedonthecharacteristicsoftheSun.In2015,theIAUdefinedasetof
nominalsolarvalues(definedasSIconstants,withoutuncertainties)whichcanbeusedforquotingstellar
parameters:
nominalsolarluminosity: L=3.8281026W[54]
nominalsolarradius

R=6.957108m[54]

ThesolarmassMwasnotexplicitlydefinedbytheIAUduetothelargerelativeuncertainty(104)ofthe
NewtoniangravitationalconstantG.However,sincetheproductoftheNewtoniangravitationalconstantandsolar
masstogether(GM)hasbeendeterminedtomuchgreaterprecision,theIAUdefinedthenominalsolarmass
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parametertobe:
nominalsolarmassparameter: GM=1.32712441020m3s2[54]
However,onecancombinethenominalsolarmassparameterwiththemostrecent(2014)CODATAestimateof
theNewtoniangravitationalconstantGtoderivethesolarmasstobeapproximately1.98851030kg.Although
theexactvaluesfortheluminosity,radius,massparameter,andmassmayvaryslightlyinthefuturedueto
observationaluncertainties,the2015IAUnominalconstantswillremainthesameSIvaluesastheyremainuseful
measuresforquotingstellarparameters.
Largelengths,suchastheradiusofagiantstarorthesemimajoraxisofabinarystarsystem,areoftenexpressed
intermsoftheastronomicalunitapproximatelyequaltothemeandistancebetweentheEarthandtheSun(150
millionkmorapproximately93millionmiles).In2012,theIAUdefinedtheastronomicalconstanttobeanexact
lengthinmeters:149,597,870,700m.[54]

Formationandevolution
Starscondensefromregionsofspaceofhigherdensity,yet
thoseregionsarelessdensethanwithinavacuumchamber.
Theseregionsknownasmolecularcloudsconsistmostlyof
hydrogen,withabout23to28percentheliumandafew
percentheavierelements.Oneexampleofsuchastarforming
regionistheOrionNebula.[55]Moststarsformingroupsof
dozenstohundredsofthousandsofstars.[56]Massivestarsin
thesegroupsmaypowerfullyilluminatethoseclouds,ionizing
thehydrogen,andcreatingHIIregions.Suchfeedbackeffects,
fromstarformation,mayultimatelydisruptthecloudand
preventfurtherstarformation.
Stellarevolutionoflowmass(leftcycle)andhigh

Allstarsspendthemajorityoftheirexistenceasmain
mass(rightcycle)stars,withexamplesinitalics
sequencestars,fueledprimarilybythenuclearfusionof
hydrogenintoheliumwithintheircores.However,starsof
differentmasseshavemarkedlydifferentpropertiesatvariousstagesoftheirdevelopment.Theultimatefateof
moremassivestarsdiffersfromthatoflessmassivestars,asdotheirluminositiesandtheimpacttheyhaveontheir
environment.Accordingly,astronomersoftengroupstarsbytheirmass:[57]
Verylowmassstars,withmassesbelow0.5M,arefullyconvectiveanddistributeheliumevenly
throughoutthewholestarwhileonthemainsequence.Therefore,theyneverundergoshellburning,never
becomeredgiants,whichceasefusingandbecomeheliumwhitedwarfsandslowlycoolafterexhausting
theirhydrogen.[58]However,asthelifetimeof0.5Mstarsislongerthantheageoftheuniverse,nosuch
starhasyetreachedthewhitedwarfstage.
Lowmassstars(includingtheSun),withamassbetween0.5Mand1.82.5Mdependingon
composition,dobecomeredgiantsastheircorehydrogenisdepletedandtheybegintoburnheliumincore
inaheliumflashtheydevelopadegeneratecarbonoxygencorelaterontheasymptoticgiantbranchthey
finallyblowofftheiroutershellasaplanetarynebulaandleavebehindtheircoreintheformofawhite
dwarf.
Intermediatemassstars,between1.82.5Mand510M,passthroughevolutionarystagessimilartolow
massstars,butafterarelativelyshortperiodontheRGBtheyigniteheliumwithoutaflashandspendan
extendedperiodintheredclumpbeforeformingadegeneratecarbonoxygencore.
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Massivestarsgenerallyhaveaminimummassof710M(possiblyaslowas56M).Afterexhausting
thehydrogenatthecorethesestarsbecomesupergiantsandgoontofuseelementsheavierthanhelium.
Theyendtheirliveswhentheircorescollapseandtheyexplodeassupernovae.

Starformation
Theformationofastarbeginswithgravitationalinstabilitywithinamolecularcloud,causedbyregionsofhigher
densityoftentriggeredbycompressionofcloudsbyradiationfrommassivestars,expandingbubblesinthe
interstellarmedium,thecollisionofdifferentmolecularclouds,orthecollisionofgalaxies(asinastarburst
galaxy).[59][60]WhenaregionreachesasufficientdensityofmattertosatisfythecriteriaforJeansinstability,it
beginstocollapseunderitsowngravitationalforce.[61]
Asthecloudcollapses,individualconglomerationsofdensedustandgas
form"Bokglobules".Asaglobulecollapsesandthedensityincreases,the
gravitationalenergyconvertsintoheatandthetemperaturerises.Whenthe
protostellarcloudhasapproximatelyreachedthestableconditionof
hydrostaticequilibrium,aprotostarformsatthecore.[62]Thesepremain
sequencestarsareoftensurroundedbyaprotoplanetarydiskandpowered
mainlybytheconversionofgravitationalenergy.Theperiodof
gravitationalcontractionlastsabout10to15millionyears.
Earlystarsoflessthan2MarecalledTTauristars,whilethosewith
greatermassareHerbigAe/Bestars.Thesenewlyformedstarsemitjetsof
gasalongtheiraxisofrotation,whichmayreducetheangularmomentum
ofthecollapsingstarandresultinsmallpatchesofnebulosityknownas
HerbigHaroobjects.[63][64]Thesejets,incombinationwithradiationfrom
nearbymassivestars,mayhelptodriveawaythesurroundingcloudfrom
whichthestarwasformed.[65]

Artist'sconceptionofthebirthofa
starwithinadensemolecularcloud.

Earlyintheirdevelopment,TTauristarsfollowtheHayashitrackthey
contractanddecreaseinluminositywhileremainingatroughlythesame
temperature.LessmassiveTTauristarsfollowthistracktothemain
sequence,whilemoremassivestarsturnontotheHenyeytrack.
Moststarsareobservedtobemembersofbinarystarsystems,andthe
propertiesofthosebinariesaretheresultoftheconditionsinwhichthey
formed.[66]Agascloudmustloseitsangularmomentuminorderto
collapseandformastar.Thefragmentationofthecloudintomultiplestars
Aclusterofapproximately500young
distributessomeofthatangularmomentum.Theprimordialbinaries
starslieswithinthenearbyW40
transfersomeangularmomentumbygravitationalinteractionsduringclose
stellarnursery.
encounterswithotherstarsinyoungstellarclusters.Theseinteractionstend
tosplitapartmorewidelyseparated(soft)binarieswhilecausinghard
binariestobecomemoretightlybound.Thisproducestheseparationofbinariesintotheirtwoobserved
populationsdistributions.

Mainsequence
Starsspendabout90%oftheirexistencefusinghydrogenintoheliuminhightemperatureandhighpressure
reactionsnearthecore.Suchstarsaresaidtobeonthemainsequence,andarecalleddwarfstars.Startingatzero
agemainsequence,theproportionofheliuminastar'scorewillsteadilyincrease,therateofnuclearfusionatthe
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corewillslowlyincrease,aswillthestar'stemperatureandluminosity.[67]TheSun,forexample,isestimatedto
haveincreasedinluminositybyabout40%sinceitreachedthemainsequence4.6billion(4.6109)yearsago.[68]
Everystargeneratesastellarwindofparticlesthatcausesacontinualoutflowofgasintospace.Formoststars,the
masslostisnegligible.TheSunloses1014Meveryyear,[69]orabout0.01%ofitstotalmassoveritsentire
lifespan.However,verymassivestarscanlose107to105Meachyear,significantlyaffectingtheir
evolution.[70]Starsthatbeginwithmorethan50Mcanloseoverhalftheirtotalmasswhileonthemain
sequence.[71]
Thetimeastarspendsonthemainsequencedependsprimarilyonthe
amountoffuelithasandtherateatwhichitfusesit.TheSun'sisexpected
tolive10billion(1010)years.Massivestarsconsumetheirfuelveryrapidly
andareshortlived.Lowmassstarsconsumetheirfuelveryslowly.Stars
lessmassivethan0.25M,calledreddwarfs,areabletofusenearlyallof
theirmasswhilestarsofabout1Mcanonlyfuseabout10%oftheir
mass.Thecombinationoftheirslowfuelconsumptionandrelativelylarge
usablefuelsupplyallowslowmassstarstolastaboutonetrillion(1012)
yearsthemostextremeof0.08M)willlastforabout12trillionyears.
Reddwarfsbecomehotterandmoreluminousastheyaccumulatehelium.
Whentheyeventuallyrunoutofhydrogen,theycontractintoawhitedwarf
anddeclineintemperature.[58]However,sincethelifespanofsuchstarsis
greaterthanthecurrentageoftheuniverse(13.8billionyears),nostars
underabout0.85M[72]areexpectedtohavemovedoffthemain
sequence.

AnexampleofaHertzsprungRussell
diagramforasetofstarsthatincludes
theSun(center).(See"Classification"
below.)

Besidesmass,theelementsheavierthanheliumcanplayasignificantrole
intheevolutionofstars.Astronomerslabelallelementsheavierthanhelium"metals",andcallthechemical
concentrationoftheseelementsinastar,itsmetallicity.Astar'smetallicitycaninfluencethetimethestartakesto
burnitsfuel,andcontrolstheformationofitsmagneticfields,[73]whichaffectsthestrengthofitsstellarwind.[74]
Older,populationIIstarshavesubstantiallylessmetallicitythantheyounger,populationIstarsduetothe
compositionofthemolecularcloudsfromwhichtheyformed.Overtime,suchcloudsbecomeincreasingly
enrichedinheavierelementsasolderstarsdieandshedportionsoftheiratmospheres.

Postmainsequence
Asstarsofatleast0.4M[2]exhausttheirsupplyofhydrogenattheircore,theystarttofusehydrogeninashell
outsidetheheliumcore.Theirouterlayersexpandandcoolgreatlyastheyformaredgiant.Inabout5billion
years,whentheSunenterstheheliumburningphase,itwillexpandtoamaximumradiusofroughly1
astronomicalunit(150millionkilometres),250timesitspresentsize,andlose30%ofitscurrentmass.[68][75]
Asthehydrogenshellburningproducesmorehelium,thecoreincreasesinmassandtemperature.Inaredgiantof
upto2.25M,themassoftheheliumcorebecomesdegeneratepriortoheliumfusion.Finally,whenthe
temperatureincreasessufficiently,heliumfusionbeginsexplosivelyinwhatiscalledaheliumflash,andthestar
rapidlyshrinksinradius,increasesitssurfacetemperature,andmovestothehorizontalbranchoftheHRdiagram.

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Formoremassivestars,heliumcorefusionstartsbeforethecorebecomesdegenerate,andthestarspendssome
timeintheredclump,slowlyburninghelium,beforetheouterconvectiveenvelopecollapsesandthestarthen
movestothehorizontalbranch.[4]
Afterthestarhasfusedtheheliumofitscore,thecarbonproductfusesproducingahotcorewithanoutershellof
fusinghelium.Thestarthenfollowsanevolutionarypathcalledtheasymptoticgiantbranch(AGB)thatparallels
theotherdescribedredgiantphase,butwithahigherluminosity.ThemoremassiveAGBstarsmayundergoa
briefperiodofcarbonfusionbeforethecorebecomesdegenerate.
Massivestars
Duringtheirheliumburningphase,starsofmorethanninesolarmassesexpandtoformredsupergiants.Whenthis
fuelisexhaustedatthecore,theycontinuetofuseelementsheavierthanhelium.
Thecorecontractsandthetemperatureandpressurerisesenoughtofusecarbon(seeCarbonburningprocess).
Thisprocesscontinues,withthesuccessivestagesbeingfueledbyneon(seeneonburningprocess),oxygen(see
oxygenburningprocess),andsilicon(seesiliconburningprocess).Neartheendofthestar'slife,fusioncontinues
alongaseriesofonionlayershellswithinamassivestar.Eachshellfusesadifferentelement,withtheoutermost
shellfusinghydrogenthenextshellfusinghelium,andsoforth.[76]
Thefinalstageoccurswhenamassivestarbeginsproducingiron.Sinceironnucleiaremoretightlyboundthan
anyheaviernuclei,anyfusionbeyondirondoesnotproduceanetreleaseofenergy.Toaverylimiteddegreesuch
aprocessproceeds,butitconsumesenergy.Likewise,sincetheyaremoretightlyboundthanalllighternuclei,
suchenergycannotbereleasedbyfission.[77]Inrelativelyold,verymassivestars,alargecoreofinertironwill
accumulateinthecenterofthestar.Theheavierelementsinthesestarscanworktheirwaytothesurface,forming
evolvedobjectsknownasWolfRayetstarsthathaveadensestellarwindwhichshedstheouteratmosphere.
Collapse
Asastar'scoreshrinks,theintensityofradiationfromthatsurfaceincreases,creatingsuchradiationpressureon
theoutershellofgasthatitwillpushthoselayersaway,formingaplanetarynebula.Ifwhatremainsaftertheouter
atmospherehasbeenshedislessthan1.4M,itshrinkstoarelativelytinyobjectaboutthesizeofEarth,known
asawhitedwarf.Whitedwarfslackthemassforfurthergravitationalcompressiontotakeplace.[78]Theelectron
degeneratematterinsideawhitedwarfisnolongeraplasma,eventhoughstarsaregenerallyreferredtoasbeing
spheresofplasma.Eventually,whitedwarfsfadeintoblackdwarfsoveraverylongperiodoftime.
Inlargerstars,fusioncontinuesuntiltheironcorehasgrownsolarge(morethan1.4M)thatitcannolonger
supportitsownmass.Thiscorewillsuddenlycollapseasitselectronsaredrivenintoitsprotons,formingneutrons,
neutrinos,andgammaraysinaburstofelectroncaptureandinversebetadecay.Theshockwaveformedbythis
suddencollapsecausestherestofthestartoexplodeinasupernova.Supernovaebecomesobrightthattheymay
brieflyoutshinethestar'sentirehomegalaxy.WhentheyoccurwithintheMilkyWay,supernovaehavehistorically
beenobservedbynakedeyeobserversas"newstars"wherenoneseeminglyexistedbefore.[79]
Asupernovaexplosionblowsawaythestar'souterlayers,leavingaremnantsuchastheCrabNebula.[79]Thecore
iscompressedintoaneutronstar,whichsometimesmanifestsitselfasapulsarorXrayburster.Inthecaseofthe
largeststars,theremnantisablackholegreaterthan4M)s.[80]Inaneutronstarthematterisinastateknownas
neutrondegeneratematter,withamoreexoticformofdegeneratematter,QCDmatter,possiblypresentinthe
core.Withinablackhole,thematterisinastatethatisnotcurrentlyunderstood.
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Theblownoffouterlayersofdyingstarsincludeheavyelements,which
mayberecycledduringtheformationofnewstars.Theseheavyelements
allowtheformationofrockyplanets.Theoutflowfromsupernovaeandthe
stellarwindoflargestarsplayanimportantpartinshapingtheinterstellar
medium.[79]
Binarystars
Thepostmainsequenceevolutionofbinarystarsmaybesignificantly
differentfromtheevolutionofsinglestarsofthesamemass.Ifstarsina
binarysystemaresufficientlyclose,whenoneofthestarsexpandsto
becomearedgiantitmayoverflowitsRochelobe,theregionaroundastar
wherematerialisgravitationallyboundtothatstar,leadingtotransferof
materialtotheother.WhentheRochelobeisviolated,avarietyof
phenomenacanresult,includingcontactbinaries,commonenvelope
binaries,cataclysmicvariables,andtypeIasupernovae.

TheCrabNebula,remnantsofa
supernovathatwasfirstobserved
around1050AD

Distribution
Starsarenotspreaduniformlyacrosstheuniverse,butarenormally
groupedintogalaxiesalongwithinterstellargasanddust.Atypicalgalaxy
containshundredsofbillionsofstars,andtherearemorethan100billion
(1011)galaxiesintheobservableuniverse.[81]In2010,oneestimateofthe
numberofstarsintheobservableuniversewas300sextillion(31023).[82]
Whileitisoftenbelievedthatstarsonlyexistwithingalaxies,intergalactic
starshavebeendiscovered.[83]
Amultistarsystemconsistsoftwoormoregravitationallyboundstarsthat
orbiteachother.Thesimplestandmostcommonmultistarsystemisa
Awhitedwarfstarinorbitaround
binarystar,butsystemsofthreeormorestarsarealsofound.Forreasonsof
Sirius(artist'simpression).
orbitalstability,suchmultistarsystemsareoftenorganizedinto
hierarchicalsetsofbinarystars.[84]Largergroupscalledstarclustersalso
exist.Theserangefromloosestellarassociationswithonlyafewstars,uptoenormousglobularclusterswith
hundredsofthousandsofstars.Suchsystemsorbittheirhostgalaxy.
Ithasbeenalongheldassumptionthatthemajorityofstarsoccuringravitationallybound,multiplestarsystems.
ThisisparticularlytrueforverymassiveOandBclassstars,where80%ofthestarsarebelievedtobepartof
multiplestarsystems.Theproportionofsinglestarsystemsincreaseswithdecreasingstarmass,sothatonly25%
ofreddwarfsareknowntohavestellarcompanions.As85%ofallstarsarereddwarfs,moststarsintheMilky
Wayarelikelysinglefrombirth.[85]
TheneareststartotheEarth,apartfromtheSun,isProximaCentauri,whichis39.9trillionkilometres,or4.2
lightyears.TravellingattheorbitalspeedoftheSpaceShuttle(8kilometrespersecondalmost30,000
kilometresperhour),itwouldtakeabout150,000yearstoarrive.[86]Thisittypicalofstellarseparationsingalactic
discs.[87]Starscanbemuchclosertoeachotherinthecentresofgalaxiesandinglobularclusters,ormuchfarther
apartingalactichalos.

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Duetotherelativelyvastdistancesbetweenstarsoutsidethegalacticnucleus,collisionsbetweenstarsarethought
toberare.Indenserregionssuchasthecoreofglobularclustersorthegalacticcenter,collisionscanbemore
common.[88]Suchcollisionscanproducewhatareknownasbluestragglers.Theseabnormalstarshaveahigher
surfacetemperaturethantheothermainsequencestarswiththesameluminosityoftheclustertowhichit
belongs.[89]

Characteristics
Almosteverythingaboutastarisdeterminedbyitsinitial
mass,includingsuchcharacteristicsasluminosity,size,
evolution,lifespan,anditseventualfate.

Age
Moststarsarebetween1billionand10billionyearsold.Some
starsmayevenbecloseto13.8billionyearsoldtheobserved
ageoftheuniverse.Theoldeststaryetdiscovered,HD
140283,nicknamedMethuselahstar,isanestimated14.46
0.8billionyearsold.[90](Duetotheuncertaintyinthevalue,
thisageforthestardoesnotconflictwiththeageofthe
Universe,determinedbythePlancksatelliteas13.799
0.021).[90][91]

Someofthewellknownstarswiththeirapparent
colorsandrelativesizes.

Themoremassivethestar,theshorteritslifespan,primarilybecausemassivestarshavegreaterpressureontheir
cores,causingthemtoburnhydrogenmorerapidly.Themostmassivestarslastanaverageofafewmillionyears,
whilestarsofminimummass(reddwarfs)burntheirfuelveryslowlyandcanlasttenstohundredsofbillionsof
years.[92][93]

Chemicalcomposition
WhenstarsforminthepresentMilkyWaygalaxytheyarecomposedofabout71%hydrogenand27%helium,[94]
asmeasuredbymass,withasmallfractionofheavierelements.Typicallytheportionofheavyelementsis
measuredintermsoftheironcontentofthestellaratmosphere,asironisacommonelementanditsabsorption
linesarerelativelyeasytomeasure.Theportionofheavierelementsmaybeanindicatorofthelikelihoodthatthe
starhasaplanetarysystem.[95]
ThestarwiththelowestironcontentevermeasuredisthedwarfHE13272326,withonly1/200,000ththeiron
contentoftheSun.[96]Bycontrast,thesupermetalrichstarLeonishasnearlydoubletheabundanceofironas
theSun,whiletheplanetbearingstar14Herculishasnearlytripletheiron.[97]Therealsoexistchemicallypeculiar
starsthatshowunusualabundancesofcertainelementsintheirspectrumespeciallychromiumandrareearth
elements.[98]Starswithcoolerouteratmospheres,includingtheSun,canformvariousdiatomicandpolyatomic
molecules.[99]

Diameter
DuetotheirgreatdistancefromtheEarth,allstarsexcepttheSunappeartotheunaidedeyeasshiningpointsin
thenightskythattwinklebecauseoftheeffectoftheEarth'satmosphere.TheSunisalsoastar,butitisclose
enoughtotheEarthtoappearasadiskinstead,andtoprovidedaylight.OtherthantheSun,thestarwiththe
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largestapparentsizeisRDoradus,withanangulardiameterof
only0.057arcseconds.[100]
Thedisksofmoststarsaremuchtoosmallinangularsizetobe
observedwithcurrentgroundbasedopticaltelescopes,andso
interferometertelescopesarerequiredtoproduceimagesof
theseobjects.Anothertechniqueformeasuringtheangularsize
ofstarsisthroughoccultation.Bypreciselymeasuringthedrop
inbrightnessofastarasitisoccultedbytheMoon(ortherise
inbrightnesswhenitreappears),thestar'sangulardiametercan
becomputed.[101]
Starsvarywidelyinsize.Ineachimageinthe
sequence,therightmostobjectappearsastheleft
mostobjectinthenextpanel.TheEarthappearsat
rightinpanel1andtheSunissecondfromthe
rightinpanel3.Therightmoststaratpanel6isUY
Scuti,thelargestknownstar.

Starsrangeinsizefromneutronstars,whichvaryanywhere
from20to40km(25mi)indiameter,tosupergiantslike
BetelgeuseintheOrionconstellation,whichhasadiameter
approximately1,070timesthatoftheSunabout
1,490,171,880km(925,949,878mi).Betelgeuse,however,has
amuchlowerdensitythantheSun.[102]

Kinematics
ThemotionofastarrelativetotheSuncanprovideusefulinformation
abouttheoriginandageofastar,aswellasthestructureandevolutionof
thesurroundinggalaxy.Thecomponentsofmotionofastarconsistofthe
radialvelocitytowardorawayfromtheSun,andthetraverseangular
movement,whichiscalleditspropermotion.
Radialvelocityismeasuredbythedopplershiftofthestar'sspectrallines,
andisgiveninunitsofkm/s.Thepropermotionofastar,itsparallax,is
determinedbypreciseastrometricmeasurementsinunitsofmilliarc
seconds(mas)peryear.Withknowledgeofthestar'sparallaxandits
distance,thepropermotionvelocitycanbecalculated.Togetherwiththe
radialvelocity,thetotalvelocitycanbecalculated.Starswithhighratesof
propermotionarelikelytoberelativelyclosetotheSun,makingthem
goodcandidatesforparallaxmeasurements.[104]

ThePleiades,anopenclusterofstars
intheconstellationofTaurus.These
starsshareacommonmotionthrough
space. [103]

Whenbothratesofmovementareknown,thespacevelocityofthestarrelativetotheSunorthegalaxycanbe
computed.Amongnearbystars,ithasbeenfoundthatyoungerpopulationIstarshavegenerallylowervelocities
thanolder,populationIIstars.Thelatterhaveellipticalorbitsthatareinclinedtotheplaneofthegalaxy.[105]A
comparisonofthekinematicsofnearbystarshasallowedastronomerstotracetheirorigintocommonpointsin
giantmolecularclouds,andarereferredtoasstellarassociations.[106]

Magneticfield
Themagneticfieldofastarisgeneratedwithinregionsoftheinteriorwhereconvectivecirculationoccurs.This
movementofconductiveplasmafunctionslikeadynamo,whereinthemovementofelectricalchargesinduce
magneticfields,asdoesamechanicaldynamo.Thosemagneticfieldshaveagreatrangethatextendthroughout
andbeyondthestar.Thestrengthofthemagneticfieldvarieswiththemassandcompositionofthestar,andthe
amountofmagneticsurfaceactivitydependsuponthestar'srateofrotation.Thissurfaceactivityproduces
starspots,whichareregionsofstrongmagneticfieldsandlowerthannormalsurfacetemperatures.Coronalloops
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arearchingmagneticfieldfluxlinesthatrisefromastar'ssurfaceintothe
star'souteratmosphere,itscorona.Thecoronalloopscanbeseenduetothe
plasmatheyconductalongtheirlength.Stellarflaresareburstsofhigh
energyparticlesthatareemittedduetothesamemagneticactivity.[107]
Young,rapidlyrotatingstarstendtohavehighlevelsofsurfaceactivity
becauseoftheirmagneticfield.Themagneticfieldcanactuponastar's
stellarwind,functioningasabraketograduallyslowtherateofrotation
withtime.Thus,olderstarssuchastheSunhaveamuchslowerrateof
rotationandalowerlevelofsurfaceactivity.Theactivitylevelsofslowly
rotatingstarstendtovaryinacyclicalmannerandcanshutdown
altogetherforperiodsoftime.[108]DuringtheMaunderminimum,for
example,theSununderwenta70yearperiodwithalmostnosunspot
activity.

Mass

SurfacemagneticfieldofSUAur(a
youngstarofTTauritype),
reconstructedbymeansofZeeman
Dopplerimaging

OneofthemostmassivestarsknownisEtaCarinae,[109]which,with100
150timesasmuchmassastheSun,willhavealifespanofonlyseveralmillionyears.Studiesofthemostmassive
openclusterssuggests150Masanupperlimitforstarsinthecurrenteraoftheuniverse.[110]Thisrepresentsan
empiricalvalueforthetheoreticallimitonthemassofformingstarsduetoincreasingradiationpressureonthe
accretinggascloud.SeveralstarsintheR136clusterintheLargeMagellanicCloudhavebeenmeasuredwith
largermasses,[111]butithasbeendeterminedthattheycouldhavebeencreatedthroughthecollisionandmergerof
massivestarsinclosebinarysystems,sidesteppingthe150Mlimitonmassivestarformation.[112]
ThefirststarstoformaftertheBigBangmayhavebeenlarger,upto300
M,[113]duetothecompleteabsenceofelementsheavierthanlithiumin
theircomposition.ThisgenerationofsupermassivepopulationIIIstarsis
likelytohaveexistedintheveryearlyuniverse(i.e.,theyareobservedto
haveahighredshift),andmayhavestartedtheproductionofchemical
elementsheavierthanhydrogenthatareneededforthelaterformationof
planetsandlife.InJune2015,astronomersreportedevidencefor
PopulationIIIstarsintheCosmosRedshift7galaxyatz=6.60.[114][115]
Withamassonly80timesthatofJupiter(MJ),2MASSJ05231403isthe
smallestknownstarundergoingnuclearfusioninitscore.[116]Forstars
withmetallicitysimilartotheSun,thetheoreticalminimummassthestar
canhaveandstillundergofusionatthecore,isestimatedtobeabout75
MJ.[117][118]Whenthemetallicityisverylow,however,theminimumstar
sizeseemstobeabout8.3%ofthesolarmass,orabout87MJ.[118][119]
Smallerbodiescalledbrowndwarfs,occupyapoorlydefinedgreyarea
betweenstarsandgasgiants.

ThereflectionnebulaNGC1999is
brilliantlyilluminatedbyV380
Orionis(center),avariablestarwith
about3.5timesthemassoftheSun.
Theblackpatchofskyisavasthole
ofemptyspaceandnotadarknebula
aspreviouslythought.

Thecombinationoftheradiusandthemassofastardeterminesitssurface
gravity.Giantstarshaveamuchlowersurfacegravitythandomainsequencestars,whiletheoppositeisthecase
fordegenerate,compactstarssuchaswhitedwarfs.Thesurfacegravitycaninfluencetheappearanceofastar's
spectrum,withhighergravitycausingabroadeningoftheabsorptionlines.[33]
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Rotation
Therotationrateofstarscanbedeterminedthroughspectroscopicmeasurement,ormoreexactlydeterminedby
trackingtheirstarspots.Youngstarscanhavearotationgreaterthan100km/sattheequator.TheBclassstar
Achernar,forexample,hasanequatorialvelocityofabout225km/sorgreater,causingitsequatortobeslung
outwardandgivingitanequatorialdiameterthatismorethan50%greaterthanbetweenthepoles.Thisrateof
rotationisjustbelowthecriticalvelocityof300km/satwhichspeedthestarwouldbreakapart.[120]Bycontrast,
theSunrotatesonceevery2535days,withanequatorialvelocityof1.994km/s.Amainsequencestar's
magneticfieldandthestellarwindservetoslowitsrotationbyasignificantamountasitevolvesonthemain
sequence.[121]
Degeneratestarshavecontractedintoacompactmass,resultinginarapidrateofrotation.Howevertheyhave
relativelylowratesofrotationcomparedtowhatwouldbeexpectedbyconservationofangularmomentumthe
tendencyofarotatingbodytocompensateforacontractioninsizebyincreasingitsrateofspin.Alargeportionof
thestar'sangularmomentumisdissipatedasaresultofmasslossthroughthestellarwind.[122]Inspiteofthis,the
rateofrotationforapulsarcanbeveryrapid.ThepulsarattheheartoftheCrabnebula,forexample,rotates30
timespersecond.[123]Therotationrateofthepulsarwillgraduallyslowduetotheemissionofradiation.

Temperature
Thesurfacetemperatureofamainsequencestarisdeterminedbytherateofenergyproductionofitscoreandby
itsradius,andisoftenestimatedfromthestar'scolorindex.[124]Thetemperatureisnormallygivenintermsofan
effectivetemperature,whichisthetemperatureofanidealizedblackbodythatradiatesitsenergyatthesame
luminositypersurfaceareaasthestar.Notethattheeffectivetemperatureisonlyarepresentativeofthesurface,as
thetemperatureincreasestowardthecore.[125]Thetemperatureinthecoreregionofastarisseveral
millionkelvins.[126]
Thestellartemperaturewilldeterminetherateofionizationofvariouselements,resultingincharacteristic
absorptionlinesinthespectrum.Thesurfacetemperatureofastar,alongwithitsvisualabsolutemagnitudeand
absorptionfeatures,isusedtoclassifyastar(seeclassificationbelow).[33]
Massivemainsequencestarscanhavesurfacetemperaturesof50,000K.SmallerstarssuchastheSunhave
surfacetemperaturesofafewthousandK.Redgiantshaverelativelylowsurfacetemperaturesofabout3,600K
buttheyalsohaveahighluminosityduetotheirlargeexteriorsurfacearea.[127]

Radiation
Theenergyproducedbystars,aproductofnuclearfusion,radiatestospaceasbothelectromagneticradiationand
particleradiation.Theparticleradiationemittedbyastarismanifestedasthestellarwind,[128]whichstreamsfrom
theouterlayersaselectricallychargedprotonsandalphaandbetaparticles.Althoughalmostmassless,therealso
existsasteadystreamofneutrinosemanatingfromthestar'score.
Theproductionofenergyatthecoreisthereasonstarsshinesobrightly:everytimetwoormoreatomicnuclei
fusetogethertoformasingleatomicnucleusofanewheavierelement,gammarayphotonsarereleasedfromthe
nuclearfusionproduct.Thisenergyisconvertedtootherformsofelectromagneticenergyoflowerfrequency,such
asvisiblelight,bythetimeitreachesthestar'souterlayers.

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Thecolorofastar,asdeterminedbythemostintensefrequencyofthevisiblelight,dependsonthetemperatureof
thestar'souterlayers,includingitsphotosphere.[129]Besidesvisiblelight,starsalsoemitformsofelectromagnetic
radiationthatareinvisibletothehumaneye.Infact,stellarelectromagneticradiationspanstheentire
electromagneticspectrum,fromthelongestwavelengthsofradiowavesthroughinfrared,visiblelight,ultraviolet,
totheshortestofXrays,andgammarays.Fromthestandpointoftotalenergyemittedbyastar,notall
componentsofstellarelectromagneticradiationaresignificant,butallfrequenciesprovideinsightintothestar's
physics.
Usingthestellarspectrum,astronomerscanalsodeterminethesurfacetemperature,surfacegravity,metallicityand
rotationalvelocityofastar.Ifthedistanceofthestarisfound,suchasbymeasuringtheparallax,thenthe
luminosityofthestarcanbederived.Themass,radius,surfacegravity,androtationperiodcanthenbeestimated
basedonstellarmodels.(Masscanbecalculatedforstarsinbinarysystemsbymeasuringtheirorbitalvelocities
anddistances.Gravitationalmicrolensinghasbeenusedtomeasurethemassofasinglestar.[130])Withthese
parameters,astronomerscanalsoestimatetheageofthestar.[131]

Luminosity
Theluminosityofastaristheamountoflightandotherformsofradiantenergyitradiatesperunitoftime.Ithas
unitsofpower.Theluminosityofastarisdeterminedbyitsradiusandsurfacetemperature.Manystarsdonot
radiateuniformlyacrosstheirentiresurface.TherapidlyrotatingstarVega,forexample,hasahigherenergyflux
(powerperunitarea)atitspolesthanalongitsequator.[132]
Patchesofthestar'ssurfacewithalowertemperatureandluminositythanaverageareknownasstarspots.Small,
dwarfstarssuchasourSungenerallyhaveessentiallyfeaturelessdiskswithonlysmallstarspots.Giantstarshave
muchlarger,moreobviousstarspots,[133]andtheyalsoexhibitstrongstellarlimbdarkening.Thatis,thebrightness
decreasestowardstheedgeofthestellardisk.[134]ReddwarfflarestarssuchasUVCetimayalsopossess
prominentstarspotfeatures.[135]

Magnitude
Theapparentbrightnessofastarisexpressedintermsofitsapparentmagnitude.Itisafunctionofthestar's
luminosity,itsdistancefromEarth,andthealteringofthestar'slightasitpassesthroughEarth'satmosphere.
Intrinsicorabsolutemagnitudeisdirectlyrelatedtoastar'sluminosity,andiswhattheapparentmagnitudeastar
wouldbeifthedistancebetweentheEarthandthestarwere10parsecs(32.6lightyears).
Boththeapparentandabsolutemagnitudescalesarelogarithmicunits:onewholenumberdifferenceinmagnitude
isequaltoabrightnessvariationofabout2.5times[137](the5throotof100orapproximately2.512).Thismeans
thatafirstmagnitudestar(+1.00)isabout2.5timesbrighterthanasecondmagnitude(+2.00)star,andabout100
timesbrighterthanasixthmagnitudestar(+6.00).Thefainteststarsvisibletothenakedeyeundergoodseeing
conditionsareaboutmagnitude+6.
Onbothapparentandabsolutemagnitudescales,thesmallerthemagnitudenumber,thebrighterthestarthelarger
themagnitudenumber,thefainterthestar.Thebrighteststars,oneitherscale,havenegativemagnitudenumbers.
Thevariationinbrightness(L)betweentwostarsiscalculatedbysubtractingthemagnitudenumberofthe
brighterstar(mb)fromthemagnitudenumberofthefainterstar(mf),thenusingthedifferenceasanexponentfor
thebasenumber2.512thatistosay:

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RelativetobothluminosityanddistancefromEarth,astar'sabsolutemagnitude(M)
andapparentmagnitude(m)arenotequivalent[137]forexample,thebrightstarSirius
hasanapparentmagnitudeof1.44,butithasanabsolutemagnitudeof+1.41.
TheSunhasanapparentmagnitudeof26.7,butitsabsolutemagnitudeisonly+4.83.
Sirius,thebrighteststarinthenightskyasseenfromEarth,isapproximately23times
moreluminousthantheSun,whileCanopus,thesecondbrighteststarinthenightsky
withanabsolutemagnitudeof5.53,isapproximately14,000timesmoreluminous
thantheSun.DespiteCanopusbeingvastlymoreluminousthanSirius,however,
SiriusappearsbrighterthanCanopus.ThisisbecauseSiriusismerely8.6lightyears
fromtheEarth,whileCanopusismuchfartherawayatadistanceof310lightyears.

Numberofstars
brighterthan
magnitude
Apparent Number
magnitude ofstars[136]

Asof2006,thestarwiththehighestknownabsolutemagnitudeisLBV180620,with
amagnitudeof14.2.Thisstarisatleast5,000,000timesmoreluminousthanthe
Sun.[138]TheleastluminousstarsthatarecurrentlyknownarelocatedintheNGC
6397cluster.Thefaintestreddwarfsintheclusterweremagnitude26,whilea28th
magnitudewhitedwarfwasalsodiscovered.Thesefaintstarsaresodimthattheir
lightisasbrightasabirthdaycandleontheMoonwhenviewedfromtheEarth.[139]

15

48

171

513

1,602

4,800

14,000

Classification
Thecurrentstellarclassificationsystemoriginatedintheearly20th
century,whenstarswereclassifiedfromAtoQbasedonthe
strengthofthehydrogenline.[141]Itthoughtthatthehydrogenline
strengthwasasimplelinearfunctionoftemperature.Rather,itwas
morecomplicateditstrengthenedwithincreasingtemperature,it
peakednear9000K,andthendeclinedatgreatertemperatures.
Whentheclassificationswerereorderedbytemperature,itmore
closelyresembledthemodernscheme.[142]

Surfacetemperaturerangesfor
differentstellarclasses[140]
Class Temperature
Samplestar
O

33,000Kormore

ZetaOphiuchi

10,50030,000K

Rigel

7,50010,000K

Altair

6,0007,200K

ProcyonA

Starsaregivenasingleletterclassificationaccordingtotheir
G
5,5006,000K
Sun
spectra,rangingfromtypeO,whichareveryhot,toM,whichare
K
4,0005,250K
EpsilonIndi
socoolthatmoleculesmayformintheiratmospheres.Themain
classificationsinorderofdecreasingsurfacetemperatureare:O,B,
M
2,6003,850K ProximaCentauri
A,F,G,K,andM.Avarietyofrarespectraltypesaregivenspecial
classifications.ThemostcommonofthesearetypesLandT,which
classifythecoldestlowmassstarsandbrowndwarfs.Eachletterhas10subdivisions,numberedfrom0to9,in
orderofdecreasingtemperature.However,thissystembreaksdownatextremehightemperaturesasclassesO0
andO1maynotexist.[143]
Inaddition,starsmaybeclassifiedbytheluminosityeffectsfoundintheirspectrallines,whichcorrespondtotheir
spatialsizeandisdeterminedbytheirsurfacegravity.Theserangefrom0(hypergiants)throughIII(giants)toV
(mainsequencedwarfs)someauthorsaddVII(whitedwarfs).Moststarsbelongtothemainsequence,which
consistsofordinaryhydrogenburningstars.Thesefallalonganarrow,diagonalbandwhengraphedaccordingto
theirabsolutemagnitudeandspectraltype.[143]TheSunisamainsequenceG2Vyellowdwarfofintermediate
temperatureandordinarysize.
Additionalnomenclature,intheformoflowercaselettersaddedtotheendofthespectraltypetoindicatepeculiar
featuresofthespectrum.Forexample,an"e"canindicatethepresenceofemissionlines"m"representsunusually
stronglevelsofmetals,and"var"canmeanvariationsinthespectraltype.[143]
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WhitedwarfstarshavetheirownclassthatbeginswiththeletterD.ThisisfurthersubdividedintotheclassesDA,
DB,DC,DO,DZ,andDQ,dependingonthetypesofprominentlinesfoundinthespectrum.Thisisfollowedbya
numericalvaluethatindicatesthetemperature.[144]

Variablestars
Variablestarshaveperiodicorrandomchangesinluminositybecauseof
intrinsicorextrinsicproperties.Oftheintrinsicallyvariablestars,the
primarytypescanbesubdividedintothreeprincipalgroups.
Duringtheirstellarevolution,somestarspassthroughphaseswherethey
canbecomepulsatingvariables.Pulsatingvariablestarsvaryinradiusand
luminosityovertime,expandingandcontractingwithperiodsrangingfrom
minutestoyears,dependingonthesizeofthestar.Thiscategoryincludes
CepheidandCepheidlikestars,andlongperiodvariablessuchas
Mira.[145]
Eruptivevariablesarestarsthatexperiencesuddenincreasesinluminosity
becauseofflaresormassejectionevents.[145]Thisgroupincludes
protostars,WolfRayetstars,andflarestars,aswellasgiantandsupergiant
stars.

Theasymmetricalappearanceof
Mira,anoscillatingvariablestar.

Cataclysmicorexplosivevariablestarsarethosethatundergoadramaticchangeintheirproperties.Thisgroup
includesnovaeandsupernovae.Abinarystarsystemthatincludesanearbywhitedwarfcanproducecertaintypes
ofthesespectacularstellarexplosions,includingthenovaandaType1asupernova.[4]Theexplosioniscreated
whenthewhitedwarfaccreteshydrogenfromthecompanionstar,buildingupmassuntilthehydrogenundergoes
fusion.[146]Somenovaearealsorecurrent,havingperiodicoutburstsofmoderateamplitude.[145]
Starscanalsovaryinluminositybecauseofextrinsicfactors,suchaseclipsingbinaries,aswellasrotatingstars
thatproduceextremestarspots.[145]AnotableexampleofaneclipsingbinaryisAlgol,whichregularlyvariesin
magnitudefrom2.3to3.5overaperiodof2.87days.

Structure

Internalstructuresofmainsequence
stars,convectionzoneswitharrowed
cyclesandradiativezoneswithred
flashes.Totheleftalowmassred
dwarf,inthecenteramidsized
yellowdwarf,and,attheright,a
massivebluewhitemainsequence
star.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star

Theinteriorofastablestarisinastateofhydrostaticequilibrium:the
forcesonanysmallvolumealmostexactlycounterbalanceeachother.The
balancedforcesareinwardgravitationalforceandanoutwardforcedueto
thepressuregradientwithinthestar.Thepressuregradientisestablishedby
thetemperaturegradientoftheplasmatheouterpartofthestariscooler
thanthecore.Thetemperatureatthecoreofamainsequenceorgiantstar
isatleastontheorderof107K.Theresultingtemperatureandpressureat
thehydrogenburningcoreofamainsequencestararesufficientfornuclear
fusiontooccurandforsufficientenergytobeproducedtopreventfurther
collapseofthestar.[147][148]
Asatomicnucleiarefusedinthecore,theyemitenergyintheformof
gammarays.Thesephotonsinteractwiththesurroundingplasma,addingto
thethermalenergyatthecore.Starsonthemainsequenceconvert
hydrogenintohelium,creatingaslowlybutsteadilyincreasingproportion
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ofheliuminthecore.Eventuallytheheliumcontentbecomespredominant,andenergyproductionceasesatthe
core.Instead,forstarsofmorethan0.4M,fusionoccursinaslowlyexpandingshellaroundthedegenerate
heliumcore.[149]
Inadditiontohydrostaticequilibrium,theinteriorofastablestarwillalsomaintainanenergybalanceofthermal
equilibrium.Thereisaradialtemperaturegradientthroughouttheinteriorthatresultsinafluxofenergyflowing
towardtheexterior.Theoutgoingfluxofenergyleavinganylayerwithinthestarwillexactlymatchtheincoming
fluxfrombelow.
Theradiationzoneistheregionofthestellarinteriorwherethefluxofenergyoutwardisdependentonradiative
heattransfer,sinceconvectiveheattransferisinefficientinthatzone.Inthisregiontheplasmawillnotbe
perturbed,andanymassmotionswilldieout.Ifthisisnotthecase,however,thentheplasmabecomesunstable
andconvectionwilloccur,formingaconvectionzone.Thiscanoccur,forexample,inregionswhereveryhigh
energyfluxesoccur,suchasnearthecoreorinareaswithhighopacity(makingradiatativeheattransfer
inefficient)asintheouterenvelope.[148]
Theoccurrenceofconvectionintheouterenvelopeofamainsequencestardependsonthestar'smass.Starswith
severaltimesthemassoftheSunhaveaconvectionzonedeepwithintheinteriorandaradiativezoneintheouter
layers.SmallerstarssuchastheSunarejusttheopposite,withtheconvectivezonelocatedintheouterlayers.[150]
Reddwarfstarswithlessthan0.4Mareconvectivethroughout,whichpreventstheaccumulationofahelium
core.[2]Formoststarstheconvectivezoneswillalsovaryovertimeasthestaragesandtheconstitutionofthe
interiorismodified.[148]
Thephotosphereisthatportionofastarthatisvisibletoanobserver.This
isthelayeratwhichtheplasmaofthestarbecomestransparenttophotons
oflight.Fromhere,theenergygeneratedatthecorebecomesfreeto
propagateintospace.Itiswithinthephotospherethatsunspots,regionsof
lowerthanaveragetemperature,appear.
Abovethelevelofthephotosphereisthestellaratmosphere.Inamain
sequencestarsuchastheSun,thelowestleveloftheatmosphere,just
abovethephotosphere,isthethinchromosphereregion,wherespicules
appearandstellarflaresbegin.Abovethisisthetransitionregion,where
Thisdiagramshowsacrosssectionof
thetemperaturerapidlyincreaseswithinadistanceofonly100km(62mi).
theSun.
Beyondthisisthecorona,avolumeofsuperheatedplasmathatcanextend
outwardtoseveralmillionkilometres.[151]Theexistenceofacorona
appearstobedependentonaconvectivezoneintheouterlayersofthestar.[150]Despiteitshightemperature,and
thecoronaemitsverylittlelight,duetoitslowgasdensity.ThecoronaregionoftheSunisnormallyonlyvisible
duringasolareclipse.
Fromthecorona,astellarwindofplasmaparticlesexpandsoutwardfromthestar,untilitinteractswiththe
interstellarmedium.FortheSun,theinfluenceofitssolarwindextendsthroughoutabubbleshapedregioncalled
theheliosphere.[152]

Nuclearfusionreactionpathways
Avarietyofnuclearfusionreactionstakeplaceinthecoresofstars,thatdependupontheirmassandcomposition.
Whennucleifuse,themassofthefusedproductislessthanthemassoftheoriginalparts.Thislostmassis
convertedtoelectromagneticenergy,accordingtothemassenergyequivalencerelationshipE=mc2.[1]
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Thehydrogenfusionprocessistemperaturesensitive,soamoderateincrease
inthecoretemperaturewillresultinasignificantincreaseinthefusionrate.
Asaresult,thecoretemperatureofmainsequencestarsonlyvariesfrom4
millionkelvinforasmallMclassstarto40millionkelvinforamassiveO
classstar.[126]
IntheSun,witha10millionkelvincore,hydrogenfusestoformheliumin
theprotonprotonchainreaction:[153]
41H22H+2e++2e(2x0.4MeV)
2e++2e2(2x1.0MeV)
21H+22H23He+2(2x5.5MeV)
23He4He+21H(12.9MeV)
Thesereactionsresultintheoverallreaction:
41H4He+2e++2+2e(26.7MeV)

Overviewoftheprotonproton
chain

wheree+isapositron,isagammarayphoton,eisaneutrino,andHand
Heareisotopesofhydrogenandhelium,respectively.Theenergyreleasedby
thisreactionisinmillionsofelectronvolts,whichisactuallyonlyatiny
amountofenergy.Howeverenormousnumbersofthesereactionsoccur
constantly,producingalltheenergynecessarytosustainthestar'sradiation
output.Incomparison,thecombustionoftwohydrogengasmoleculeswith
oneoxygengasmoleculereleasesonly5.7eV.
Minimumstellar
massrequiredfor
fusion
Solar
Element
masses
Hydrogen

0.01

Helium

0.4

Carbon

5[154]

Neon

Inmoremassivestars,heliumisproducedinacycleof
reactionscatalyzedbycarboncalledthecarbonnitrogen
oxygencycle.[153]

Thecarbonnitrogenoxygencycle

Inevolvedstarswithcoresat100millionkelvinand
massesbetween0.5and10M,heliumcanbetransformedintocarboninthetriplealpha
processthatusestheintermediateelementberyllium:[153]
4He+4He+92keV8*Be
4He+8*Be+67keV12*C
12*C12C++7.4MeV

Foranoverallreactionof:
34He12C++7.2MeV
Inmassivestars,heavierelementscanalsobeburnedinacontractingcorethroughtheneonburningprocessand
oxygenburningprocess.Thefinalstageinthestellarnucleosynthesisprocessisthesiliconburningprocessthat
resultsintheproductionofthestableisotopeiron56,anendothermicprocessthatconsumesenergy,andsofurther
energycanonlybeproducedthroughgravitationalcollapse.[153]
Theexamplebelowshowstheamountoftimerequiredforastarof20Mtoconsumeallofitsnuclearfuel.Asan
Oclassmainsequencestar,itwouldbe8timesthesolarradiusand62,000timestheSun'sluminosity.[155]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Star

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Fuel
Temperature Density Burnduration
material (millionkelvins) (kg/cm3) (inyears)
H

37

0.0045

8.1million

He

188

0.97

1.2million

870

170

976

Ne

1,570

3,100

0.6

1,980

5,550

1.25

S/Si

3,340

33,400

0.0315[156]

Seealso
Exoplanethoststars
Listsofstars
Listoflargestknownstars
Outlineofastronomy
Siderealtime
Starclocks
Starcount
Starsandplanetarysystemsinfiction
Stellarastronomy
Stellardynamics
Twinkle,Twinkle,LittleStar(children'snurseryrhyme)

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Furtherreading
Pickover,Cliff(2001).TheStarsofHeaven.OxfordUniversityPress.ISBN0195148746.
Gribbin,JohnGribbin,Mary(2001).Stardust:SupernovaeandLifeTheCosmicConnection.Yale
UniversityPress.ISBN0300090978.
Hawking,Stephen(1988).ABriefHistoryofTime.BantamBooks.ISBN0553175211.

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Externallinks
Kaler,James."PortraitsofStarsandtheirConstellations".University
ofIllinois.Retrieved20100820.
"Querystarbyidentifier,coordinatesorreferencecode".SIMBAD.
CentredeDonnesastronomiquesdeStrasbourg.Retrieved
20100820.
"HowToDecipherClassificationCodes".AstronomicalSocietyof
SouthAustralia.Retrieved20100820.
Prialnick,Dinaetal.(2001)."Stars:StellarAtmospheres,Structure,
&Evolution".UniversityofSt.Andrews.Retrieved20100820.

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