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The Lives of stars

Interstellar medium
Through out space in between stars it is considered to be an empty
vacuum.
But there is very small amounts of gas and dust through out space.
This very small amounts of gas and dust is called the interstellar
medium.
It is composed of 90% hydrogen, 9% helium, and 1% other elements.

Nebulae
A nebulae is a dense region of interstellar gas and dust.
Nebulae are often embedded in much larger bodies of gas and dust
called molecular clouds.
There are different types of nebulae.

Dark nebulae
Dark nebulae are regions of interstellar gas and dust that are dense
enough to prevent visible light from behind them to reach us.
They just appear as empty space to the naked eye.
Dark nebulae are among the densest type of nebulae.

Dark nebulae

Emission nebulae
Emission nebulae are regions of gas and dust that glow from energy
received from nearby stars or collisions between clouds.

Emission nebulae

New stars
Supernovae, collisions of clouds, and starlight can trigger the birth of a
stars.
Small regions in a molecular cloud can become unstable and begin to
collapse, they become denser, and block light from passing through.
These dark regions are called Bok globules, there dense cores become
stars.
Often a molecular cloud could have hundreds or thousands of stars forming
together in a cluster. The stars forming together eventually spread apart.

Protostar
At collapsing dense core starts as a cool, and dusty region thousands of
times larger than our solar system.
Parts of the core closer to the center collapse faster. The center increases
mass and heats up. This adding of mass to the center is called accretion.
Eventually a protostar forms at the center. A protostar is larger than the
star it will become.
A protostar is a young star that has not begun to fuse hydrogen.

Pre-main-sequence star
Eventually the radiation and particles coming of the protostar exert enough
outward force to stop the flow of gas and dust to the center.
At this point the protostar has become a pre-main-sequence star.
The young star now begins to collapse much slower.
When the temperature at the center gets to 107 K nuclear fusion starts and
the young star stops collapsing and becomes a main-sequence star.
A star like our Sun takes tens of millions of years to start nuclear fusion.

Failed stars
In some cases if a protostar isnt large enough it doesnt have strong
enough gravity for the center to get hot enough to start fusion.
In these cases these small bodies contract to become planet like orbs
of hydrogen and helium called brown dwarfs.

Main-sequence stars
Stars spend most of there lives as a main-sequence star.
A main-sequence star does not change in size. The energy from the center
is enough to balance gravity and keep it from collapsing any further.
The bigger the star the hotter and brighter it is, but the shorter its life
span.

Larger stars dont live as long because they burn through there fuel quicker.
Our star the Sun will live as a main-sequence star for about 10 billion year.

Evolution of low mass stars


A low mass star is one between 0.08-0.4 times the mass of our Sun
(M).
These stars are called red dwarfs, they are the smallest, dimmest, and
coolest main-sequence stars.

Red dwarfs fuse hydrogen slower than other stars. Because of this red
dwarfs remain main-sequence stars the longest. They can last trillions
of years.

Evolution of low mass stars


As a red dwarf fuses hydrogen into helium, the helium leaves the core toward
outer regions of the star. As a result hydrogen from the outer regions will move
into the core.
This cycle continues until all of the hydrogen is fused into helium. These stars are
not hot enough to fuse helium, therefore fusion stops.
At this point it is no longer a main-sequence star, just a ball of helium gas that will
get cooler and dimmer.
Because red dwarfs live so long there are more of them than any other star.
About 85% of all the stars in our galaxy are red dwarfs. Most of them are to small
and dim to see with the naked eye.

Evolution of mid and high-mass stars


Mid to high-mass stars are stars of mass 0.4 M and larger.
As hydrogen is fused into helium it does not leave the core like in the
case of red dwarfs.
When stars of this size finish fusing all the hydrogen in there core into
helium they become red-giant stars. There cores are hot enough for
helium to begin to fuse.

The Sun
In about 5 billion years our Sun will have a helium core.
It will become a red-giant, with a diameter of about 1 AU.
It will vaporize Mercury, probably pull Venus into it and scorch the
Earth.
The Sun will spend about 10 billion years in the main-sequence, then
about 1 billion years as a red-giant.