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Stars Different types

The star closest to Earth is named Sol, or the Sun. It is a G-type, main-sequence star.

It is often called a yellow dwarf (although its light is closer to white than yellow.)

However, there are many other types of stars. How are the different types of stars related to each other?

Life cycle of a star

Here is one way to show the various ways that a star can develop and change over time.

Star life cycle by R.N. Bailey on Wikimedia

Image by R. N. Bailey on wikimedia, File:Star_Life_Cycle_Chart.jpg

Here is another way to show the information.

The lifecycle of stars, show that the lifecycle is not linear: there are branches!
Show pathways that lead to white dwarfs, black holes, pulsars, neutron stars, etc.

nebula -> red giant -> collapse -> nova -> white dwarf -> dead star

nebula -> supergiant -> collapse -> supernova -> neutron star

nebula -> supergiant -> collapse -> supernova -> black hole


How do stars compare in size?

A stunning size comparison of the planets in our solar system, our sun, and other stars.

The relative sizes of the Earth, a neutron star and a quark star.

Relative sizes Grand Canyon neutron star quark star

Is a neutron star a giant atom?
In some ways, sure – it is a solid sphere of nucleons, like a large atom. But in a very important way it isn’t an atom. The nucleus of an atom is held together by the strong nuclear force. In contrast, a neutron star is held together by gravity.

Learning Standards

Astronomy learning standards

A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (2012)

Stars’ radiation of visible light and other forms of energy can be measured and studied to develop explanations about the formation, age, and composition of the universe. Stars go through a sequence of developmental stages—they are formed; evolve in size, mass, and brightness; and eventually burn out. Material from earlier stars that exploded as supernovas is recycled to form younger stars and their planetary systems. The sun is a medium-sized star about halfway through its predicted life span of about 10 billion years…. The star called the sun is changing and will burn out over a life span of approximately 10 billion years. The sun is just one of more than 200 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy, and the Milky Way is just one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the universe. The study of stars’ light spectra and brightness is used to identify compositional elements of stars, their movements, and their distances from Earth.

Benchmarks: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Telescopes reveal that there are many more stars in the night sky than are evident to the unaided eye,

Stars are like the sun, some being smaller and some larger, but so far away that they look like points of light. 4A/E5

A large light source at a great distance looks like a small light source that is much closer. 4A/E6** (BSL)

By the end of the 8th grade, students should know that

The sun is a medium-sized star located near the edge of a disc-shaped galaxy of stars, part of which can be seen as a glowing band of light that spans the sky on a very clear night. 4A/M1a

The universe contains many billions of galaxies, and each galaxy contains many billions of stars. To the naked eye, even the closest of these galaxies is no more than a dim, fuzzy spot. 4A/M1bc

The sun is many thousands of times closer to the earth than any other star. Light from the sun takes a few minutes to reach the earth, but light from the next nearest star takes a few years to arrive. The trip to that star would take the fastest rocket thousands of years. 4A/M2abc


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