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ASTROPHYSICS The study of Astrophysics -- understanding the universe we live in -- has been an exciting field of exploration for centuries.

How big is the universe? How did it start and what is its fate? What's out there in deep space? What are the stars and galaxies made of? What makes them shine? Are there other planets in the universe and, if so, how many? These fundamental questions have occupied people thoughts for generations in attempt to uncover the mysteries of the universe. Remarkable discoveries have been made in Astrophysics in recent years ranging from the Big-Bang and the early stage of the universe, to measurement of the structure in the universe, to the existence of Dark Matter and Dark Energy, the discovery of Black Holes, and the discovery of planets around other stars. These discoveries have provided some answers to these fundamental questions. The new discoveries have also produced new fundamental questions: What is the nature of the Dark Matter and the Dark Energy? How do planets form around stars? How does life form on planets (the new field of Astro-biology)? How do massive black holes form? And more. Observations needed to probe the universe and answer these questions are carried out mostly with telescopes, not only the familiar ones sensitive to optical light rays, but also with instruments designed to receive radio waves, X-rays, and Gamma-rays. Within the solar system, astronomers use space probes. The vast amount of observational detail obtained with these techniques is then interpreted by means of the basic laws of physics. Especially in recent decades, the new tools of radio telescopes on the ground and X-ray, optical, and ultraviolet telescopes in space have permitted us to make the startling discoveries about the heavens mentioned above. For example, we now know that dense stars consist almost entirely of neutrons. We find even smaller, more massive, objects -- black holes -whose gravitational attraction is so great that any light waves from the surface cannot escape but are attracted back. Gigantic explosions of stars within individual galaxies -- supernovae and Gamma-Ray bursts -- have been found to radiate as much light as billions of suns. While such discoveries are fascinating in their own right, they cast light on the

fundamental questions that people have been asking since the dawn of mankind about the hidden nature of our universe.


STAR A star is a massive, luminous ball of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth. Other stars are visible from Earth during the night, most commonly appearing as a multitude of fixed luminous points, when they are not outshone by the Sun or blocked by atmospheric phenomena. A star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen in its core releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and then radiates into outer space. Almost all naturally occurring elements heavier than helium were created by stars.

BIRTH OF A STAR Stars are born within the clouds of dust and scattered throughout most galaxies. Turbulence deep within these clouds gives rise to knots with sufficient mass that the gas and dust can begin to collapse under its own gravitational attraction. As the cloud collapses, the material at the center begins to heat up. Known as a protostar, it is this hot core at the heart of the collapsing cloud that will one day become a star. As the cloud collapses, a dense, hot core forms and begins gathering dust and gas. Not all of this material ends up as part of a star the remaining dust can become planets, asteroids, or comets or may remain as dust. Stars are fueled by the nuclear fusion of hydrogen to form helium deep in their interiors. The outflow of energy from the central regions of the star provides the pressure necessary to keep the star from collapsing under its own weight, and the energy by which it shines.

DEATH OF A STAR When a star begins to exhaust its hydrogen supply, its life nears an end. The first sign of a star's old age is a swelling and reddening of its outer regions. Such an aging, swollen star is called a red giant. When all its fuel has been exhausted, a star cannot generate sufficient pressure at its center to balance the crushing force of gravity. The star collapses under the force of its own weight; if it is a small star, it collapses gently and remains collapsed. Such a collapsed star, at its life's end, is called a white dwarf. A different fate awaits a large star. Its final collapse generates a violent explosion, blowing the innards of the star out into space. There, the materials of the exploded star mix with the primeval hydrogen of the universe. Later in the history of the galaxy, other stars are formed out of this mixture. The Sun is one of these stars. It contains the debris of countless other stars that exploded before the Sun was born. PROPERTIES
1. BRIGHTNESS. This is not a fundamental property, but a combination of the luminosity and distance to a star (and in some cases also dependent on the amount of absorption in the direction of a star). 2. LUMINOSITY. It is the amount of light, and other forms of radiant energy, a star radiates per unit of time. The luminosity of a star is determined by the radius and the surface temperature. However, many stars do not radiate a uniform fluxthe amount of energy radiated per unit areaacross their entire surface. 3. DISTANCE. From trigonometric and spectroscopic parallaxes. Determining distances to stars is how we figure out the scale of things in the Galaxy and is crucial to understanding stars because we can use the inverse square law for light dimming along with apparent brightness of stars to figure out how much energy is being produced and radiated away. Proxima Centauri is the nearest known star to the sun. 4. TEMPERATURE. The surface temperature of a main sequence star is determined by the rate of energy production at the core and the radius of the star and is often estimated from the star's color index. It is normally given as the effective temperature, which is the

temperature of an idealized black body that radiates its energy at the same luminosity per surface area as the star. Note that the effective temperature is only a representative value, however, as stars actually have a temperature gradient that decreases with increasing distance from the core. The temperature in the core region of a star is several million kelvins.
5. DENSITY. As we move from the centre of a star toward its edge the density and temperature decrease. The density varies from 10kg m-3 to a few thousand kg m-3 . 6. SIZE. Stars can range in mass from the least massive red dwarf stars to the monstrous hyper giant stars. Super giants are the largest stars, and may have diameters several hundred times the size of the Sun. Giants are more common than Super giants, and have diameters 10 to 100 times as large as the Sun. Red Giants have cooler temperatures than giants, and are thus less bright, but their size is still massive. Medium-size or dwarf stars are about as large as the sun. White dwarfs are small stars (smaller than the distance across Asia). 7. STELLAR SPECTRA. A spectrum is a graph of the amount of light something gives off (how bright the object is) at different wavelengths. In the spectra of stars, we frequently do not the distance to the stars, so a stars spectrum shows how bright it appears from Earth. Also the elements present in the stars atmosphere can be identified.

INTERNAL TEMPERATURE The effective temperature of a body such as a star or planet is the temperature of a black body that would emit the same total amount of electromagnetic radiation. Stars have a temperature gradient, going from their central core up to the atmosphere. The effective temperature of a star is the temperature of a black body with the same luminosity per surface area ( ) as the star and is defined according to the StefanBoltzmann law . Notice that the total (bolometric) luminosity of a star is then ,

where R is the stellar radius. Both effective temperature and bolometric luminosity actually depend on the chemical composition of a star. A stars temperature can also be determined by its spectrum.

Surface Temperature Ranges for Different Stellar Classes[130]



Sample star

33,000 K or more

Zeta Ophiuchi

10,50030,000 K


7,50010,000 K


6,0007,200 K

Procyon A

5,5006,000 K


4,0005,250 K

Epsilon Indi

2,6003,850 K

Proxima Centauri


A star has a central core surrounded by several layers. The pressure of a star is the maximum at its core and decreases as we move towards the surface. The pressure of each layer is different from that of the others. The internal pressure is essential for a star to remain in equilibrium. The pressure inside a star is, Directly proportional to its mass, and Inversely proportional to the fourth power of its radius. SUN The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Chemically, about three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen, while the rest is mostly helium. Less than 2% consists of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, iron, and others. The sun is informally designated as a yellow dwarf, because its visible radiation is most intense in the yellow-green portion of the spectrum and although its color is white, from the surface of the Earth it may appear yellow because of atmospheric scattering of blue light. The Sun consists of plasma and is not solid; it rotates faster at its equator than at its poles. This behavior is known as differential rotation, and is caused by convection in the Sun and the movement of mass, due to steep temperature gradients from the core outwards. The Sun does not have a definite boundary as rocky planets do, and in its outer parts the density of its gases drops exponentially with increasing distance from its center. Nevertheless, it has a well-defined interior structure, described below. The Sun's radius is measured from its center to the edge of the photosphere. This is simply the layer above which the gases are too cool or too thin to radiate a significant amount of light, and is therefore the surface most readily visible to the naked eye. The Sun was formed about 4.57 billion years ago when a hydrogen molecular cloud collapsed. The Sun is about halfway through its main-sequence evolution, during which nuclear fusion reactions in its core fuse hydrogen into helium. The Sun has so far converted around 100 Earth-masses of matter into energy. The Sun will spend a total of

approximately 10 billion years as a main sequence star. The Sun does not have enough mass to explode as a supernova. Instead, in about 5 billion years, it will enter a giant phase; its outer layers expanding as the hydrogen fuel in the core is consumed and the core contracts and heats up. Following the red giant phase, intense thermal pulsations will cause the Sun to throw off its outer layers, forming a planetary nebula. The only object that will remain after the outer layers are ejected is the extremely hot stellar core, which will slowly cool and fade as a white dwarf over many billions of years.

OTHER MAIN SEQUENCE STARS The main sequence is a continuous and distinctive band of stars that appears on plots of stellar color versus brightness. These color-magnitude plots are known as HertzsprungRussell diagrams after their co-developers, Ejnar

Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russell. Stars on this band are known as main-sequence stars or "dwarf" stars. All main-sequence stars have a core region where energy is generated by nuclear fusion. Main-sequence stars employ two types of hydrogen fusion processes, and the rate of energy generation from each type depends on the temperature in the core region. In the lower main sequence, energy is primarily generated as the result of the proton-proton chain, which directly fuses hydrogen together in a series of stages to produce helium. Stars in the upper main sequence have sufficiently high core temperatures to efficiently use the CNO cycle. This process uses atoms of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen as intermediaries in the process of fusing hydrogen into helium. Because there is a temperature difference between the core and the surface, or photosphere, energy is transported outward. The two modes for transporting this energy are radiation and convection. A radiation zone, where energy is transported by radiation, is stable against convection and there is very little mixing of the plasma. By contrast, in a convection zone the energy is transported by bulk movement of plasma, with hotter material rising and cooler material descending. Convection is a more efficient mode for carrying energy than radiation, but it will only occur under conditions that create a steep temperature gradient. Consequently, there is a high temperature gradient in the core region, which results in a convection zone for more efficient energy transport. This mixing of material around the core removes the helium ash from the hydrogenburning region, allowing more of the hydrogen in the star to be consumed during the main-sequence lifetime. The total amount of energy that a star can generate through nuclear fusion of hydrogen is limited by the amount of hydrogen fuel that can be consumed at the core. For a star in equilibrium, the energy generated at the core must be at least equal to the energy radiated at the surface. Since the luminosity gives the amount of energy radiated per unit time, the total life span can be estimated. Massive stars have more fuel to burn and might be expected to last longer, they also must radiate a proportionately greater amount with increased mass. Thus, the most massive stars may remain on the main sequence for only a

few million years, while stars with less than a tenth of a solar mass may last for over a trillion years. PHOTON DIFFUSION TIME