Guided Exploration: Stars Zone

Part of Hall of the Universe.


A schematic drawing of the Hall of the Universe in the Museum's Rose Center for Earth and Space.

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? 

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.”