Guided Exploration: Stars Zone


HoU Tour Map: Stars

Overview: A star is a huge luminous ball of hot gas, mostly hydrogen and helium, held together by gravity. Nuclear reactions in the cores of all stars, including our Sun, produce energy in the form of light. Stars shine because this light works its way to the surface and radiates out into space. This zone explores the various types of stars, their life cycles, and how stars produce the building blocks of life.

1. Stars Wall

All stars are born, mature, and eventually die. A star’s mass is the most important factor in determining its life cycle. Compare and contrast the different categories of stars. What role does gravity play in the birth of stars? What happens to stars at the end of their lives? The life cycles of stars vary widely, and our Sun is an intermediate-mass star. How does its life cycle compares to that of other stars? 

Museum display about stars in the Hall of the Universe.

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What is a Star?

An ordinary star is a massive sphere of luminous gas, mainly hydrogen and helium.


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The stars are so far away that, even with the best telescopes, they generally appear as just points of light.

Lives of stars

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Lives of Stars

Stars are born, live out their lives, and die. Their appearance changes dramatically along the way.

Low-mass stars

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Low-Mass Stars

Low-mass stars are the longest lived of the energy-producing objects in the universe.

Intermediate-mass stars

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Intermediate-Mass Stars

Stars of intermediate mass have lifetimes that range between 50 million and 20 billion years.

High mass stars

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High-Mass Stars

High-mass stars are very luminous and short lived.

Very high-mass stars

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Very High-Mass Stars

In any batch of newly formed stars, the most massive ones are the rarest and shortest lived.

Organizing the stars

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Organizing the Stars

Astronomers sort stars by placing them on a diagram according to their luminosity and surface temperature.

2. Our Star: The Sun

Heat from nuclear fusion in the Sun’s core drives the convection that powers these phenomena on its surface. Explore this area and watch clips of the Sun’s surface “in action.”

Our star the sun

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Our Star-The Sun

Our Sun is an ordinary star, just one among hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy.