(Last Updated On: January 6, 2020)

16 Mindblowing Facts about Stars

Stars are the most visible objects in the universe. Although they are located far away from our planet, people can still see thousands of stars with their naked eyes. The stars are mostly visible at night. There are numerous fascinating facts about stars. Below are some of the mind-blowing facts about stars that most people don’t know.

    stars fact

    1. What is a Star?

    If you look at the sky at night, you will see a lot of stars. The stars, however, are seen clearly if the sky is clear at night. But people tend to seek clarification on what exactly is a star.

    Scientifically, a star can be described as a ball which contains hydrogen and helium gasses, and the mass present sustains the nuclear fusion at the core. Very often, a cosmic event appears like you will hear astronomers saying that there was a galaxy explosion or even supernova explosion.

    Such disturbances make the clouds heat up and form a base of a new star. The most familiar star is the Sun as it is the nearest to our planet. Other stars are very far in the sky, and some cannot be seen even with the most active telescopes. The stars have different colors depending on their temperatures.

    2. How are stars formed?

    Stars are made of the same elements. Stars are formed by cold molecular hydrogen. As the clouds start experiencing gravitational collapse, many fragments will occur, which will later become individual stars. Astronomers use the Big Bang theory to explain how initial gases were formed.

    It is estimated that all stars contain a higher amount of hydrogen and less amount of helium gas. In case the stars run out of fuel, they convert the available hydrogen into helium. Stars start with a ratio of ¾ hydrogen gas and ¼ of helium gas and also have other element traces.

     

    Like many things in our universe, the stars originate from tiny particles. All stars are formed by dust clouds scattered in the galaxies. Stars come in different sizes and colors.

    Scientists came up with a Big Bang theory that explained how stars are formed. According to the method, the elements are held together to create a giant cloud. Due to gravitational disturbance, the clouds of cold molecular gas exploded, and from the pieces, the star-forming process starts.

    As the parts join together, there is the production of heat. The turbulence present on the clouds gains sufficient mass that makes the clouds of dust to collapse due to the gravitational force. When the dust clouds collapse, a very hot core is formed.

    The dense core starts to gather the surrounding dust and gas until a star is formed. People should note that not all the dust and gases are used to create the stars. The remnants are used to form planets, comets, and asteroids.

    In some instances, the clouds may make a steady pace while collapsing. For example, in 2004, astronomer James McNeil saw an expected nebula in the constellation of Orion. The star’s brightness varied because the surrounding gases’ magnetic field increased its intensity.

    3. Do stars move in the sky?

    Looking upon the sky in a clear night, we tend to see stars that appear to be shining faintly. Although they are faintly seen, some stars are even brighter than the Sun. The reason why they seem to be glowing is that they are very far away from our planet.

    Some stars are very far that it will take millions of years for the light to reach there. Although we see them twinkling closer to each other, the distance between the two stars is so significant.

    For example, there exists an extreme gap between planet Mars and the red star Antares. When we look up in the sky, the two stars look closer, but in reality, they are millions of times far away from each other.

    Stars have their orbit, and some like our star moves through the Milky Way Galaxy. Although they orbit at high speed, it is hard to notice since they are located far away.

    Barnard’s star is known to be the fastest moving star in the sky, and for it to make a noticeable motion, it would take up to 180 years.

    Most people think that constellations never change, but in reality, they change their shape and only require patience and keenness. Edmond Halley was the first person to notice the movement of the stars 300 years ago.

    By observing the old charts made by Greek sky-watchers, he realized that some stars were no longer in the same position. Stars like Sirius, Arcturus, and Aldebaran had slightly moved on their constellation.

    The Big Dipper, a part of constellation Ursa Major, is easily recognized by astronomers, and it is among the star that runs in the opposite direction from other stars in the constellation. Apart from their movement, the star’s appearance change as they age.

    The recent shift in constellation Scorpius had created a new appearance unlike in the past when the constellation had a brighter head because the three middle stars were very bright.

    It is easier to learn about patterns made by the stars if people knew their names like they know the names of the streets.

    4.Different types of stars in the universe

    Stars with similar characteristics are classified together. Some stars are dwarfs, while others are super-giants.  Although astronomers have not explored all the stars, they have discovered different types of stars

     

    protostar

    Protostar star A protostar is a collection of different kinds of gases that came from the giant molecular cloud. The gases can last for more than a hundred thousand years. As time progresses, the pressure accumulates until protostar collapses down.

    In this stage, the stars have not yet formed nuclear fusion reactions.

     


     

    T Tauri star

     

    T Tauri Star A T Tauri Star is formed after the Protostar stage. At this stage, the star has not yet accumulated enough temperature and pressure that will generate nuclear fusion. The T Tauri stars are brighter than the main sequence stars.

    A star in this stage is believed to live for over 100 million years. Stars in this stage have intense X-ray flares and also have strong winds.


     

    Main Sequence Star Stars in this stage are the majority in our galaxy. For example, the Sun is classified as a main-sequence star, and it is the closest to our planet. Stars in this stage vary in size and brightness since they can convert hydrogen into helium present in their core.

    The Main Sequence Stars have gravity pulling them inward while the light pressure caused by fusion reaction push the gravity outward.

    The constant forces make the Main Sequence Star to maintain a spherical balance. The size in this stage depends on the mass and the gravity pulling them inward.

     


    Red Giant Star The stars classified in this group have already converted all the stock hydrogen into helium. That means the fusion has stopped, and there is no more extended outward pressure to balance the inward pressure.

    Stars in this stage become 100 times larger than the average size. After the hydrogen present has been fully used, helium starts consuming the elements present.

    The stars live in this phase and can last for a few hundred million years before all the fuel present have been used up.

     


    White Dwarf Star Stars in this category have already consumed all the hydrogen that was present. Since nuclear fusion has stopped at this stage, the star collapses due to its gravity. White Dwarf stars shine because they were once very hot, although there is no fusion taking place anymore.

    These stars can take hundreds of billion years to make the background temperature of our universe.


     

    Red Dwarf Star Stars under this category are very common in the universe. Although they form the main sequence, their mass is low and also more relaxed than even the Sun.

    They conserve the hydrogen fuel in their core more compared to other categories. Astronomers feel that these stars can burn for more than 10 trillion years.

     


    5. How long do stars live?

    In the Milky Way galaxy, three solar masses are formed yearly. Stars formed vary in size and can be larger or smaller than the Sun. The number of years that a star can live depends on the mass of the star since massive stars consume more fuel compared to small stars.

    Massive stars tend to convert hydrogen to helium at a higher speed, thus shortening its life expectancy. Some of the gigantic stars can only live for a few million years and later they die after they have exhausted all the hydrogen present.

    The nuclear fusion at the core makes almost all stars to shine. Smaller stars shine less since the conversion rate of hydrogen gas to helium gas is much slower than the massive stars.

    Small stars can live for more than 15 billion years. For example, the astronomers estimated that the Sun, which is a commonly known star in our universe, was there five billion years ago. Astronomers estimate that the sun has enough reserved hydrogen gas that will keep it burning for more than five billion years.

    Mostly, the stars that are faintly seen at night are the most massive ones. Longer lasting stars are not that bright and can only be seen with the aid of a telescope. The shiny stars are at their last stage because they have already exhausted the hydrogen at the core, thus making it swollen and brighter.

    Brighter stars get our attention because only a few hundred million years are remaining before they die. For example, stars like Orion and red Betelgeuse are massive and have been using their fuel extravagantly and can only live for about ten million years and would probably explode as a supernova.

    6. Why are some stars larger than others?

    By the use Atacama Large Millimeter (ALMA) telescope, the astronomers came up with answers regarding why stars vary in size. The telescope can observe stars that are 10,000 light-years away.

    The telescope was used to see the cloud cores that are responsible for star formation. The star takes its mass during the formation process.

    As the star is formed, many materials accumulate at the center. Some stars gather more materials than others, thus having different sizes of stars.

    7. Why are some stars brighter than others?

    One can tell the difference in the brightness of stars by merely looking up into the skies at night. Some stars appear to be brighter than others. There are mainly two factors that make the stars to differ in their brightness.

    First, a significant factor is the star’s actual brightness. Some stars are naturally bright. Commonly massive stars are more brilliant than small stars. The gigantic stars convert hydrogen into helium at a higher rate, thus the brightness.

    Moreover, stars shine brighter if they are in the last red dwarf stage, whereby they have enlarged ten times their actual size.  A star’s brightness can be defined as the amount of power that a star has, the higher the number of watts, the brighter the star and vice versa. Secondly, the star’s brightness is determined by the proximity between the star and our universe.

    For example, in real life, the far an object is, the smaller it appears to be. The same art is applied by astronomers to define why some stars are brighter than others. If two stars with the same mass and level of brightness are located in the separation distance, one close to our planet and the other far away to our universe, the closer star will appear to be brighter than the star located at a far distance.

    The Sun is an example of a star closely situated near planet Earth, and that is why it appears to be the brightest star in our universe. When looking up at the skies in a clear night, the combination of bright stars and dim stars give a beautiful order.

    8.What if there were no stars?

    The Sun is the closest star in the universe, and it dominates during the day. The sun rays give people living in the biosphere a happy life. People commonly ask themselves what if there were no stars, what kind of universe will be living in.

    We cannot assume the odds of the Sun being ejected deep in the Milky Way space, what will be the scenario. Most people dislike when the clouds are blocking the skies as less light reaches our planet.

    After a massive storm and the skies are now clear, thousands of stars are seen, making the skies look good. In ancient times, people had no astronomical tools and relied on their eyes to study stars like a nebula, Andromeda, and Omega Centauri. Nowadays, with the aid of powerful telescopes, astronomers have discovered many sparkling stars with both small and large objects. If the skies were completely dark, all the joy created by the stars would be bleached.

    With no stars, how would the astronomers have discovered the fancy constellations? It is easier to see stars for granted and not realize how we have been blessed. Indeed most people would find the importance of the stars if they lost the stellar skies present.

    Our planet would be in chaos if there were no stars since our bodies rely on stars like Sun to survive. Plants grow in the presence of sunlight, and people enjoy working freely during the day because of the sunlight provided. Moreover, humans have been relying on the stars to set calendars and navigation.

    9. Do stars really twinkle?

    star facts

     

    Stars don’t twinkle. It is worth to remind people that the myth about the twinkling of stars is not accurate. Not even a single star twinkle, but in fact, the twinkling appearance is caused by the violent atmosphere of our planet.

    The turbulent atmosphere moves the reflected light from the stars’ sideways, thus making the stars to appear as if they are twinkling. In a calm atmosphere, you will see the stars standing still.

     

    Children at a younger age are taught about twinkling stars in the form of songs. It is easier for them to believe the myth since, at a clear night, stars in the sky appear to be twinkling, thus giving out their beauty to the universe.

    Aristotle thought that the stars were twinkling because they are located far away, that we have to strain our eyes to see them. In the 18th century, Isaac Newton discovered that the atmosphere was the one interfering with the light being reflected by the stars.

    The discovery made Lorne Whitehead use varying atmospheric density to describe the reason as to why the stars twinkle. The sparkling appearance of stars makes it easier to distinguish between stars and planets while observing them with our naked eyes.

    Looking up in the sky, the glittering of stars disrupts the endless darkness. If you look up in the air and find an object that is not twinkling, it is easier to tell that it is a planet rather than a star. Planets do not twinkle because they are very close to our world compared to the other stars. Planets close to planet Earth and other celestial bodies orbiting the Sun can be seen with naked eyes.

    What makes the stars to appear like they are twinkling is the turbulence in the atmosphere. Stars are very far from our planet, and the light that they produce gets reflected in the atmosphere.

    Since the atmosphere is violent, it disrupts the light reflected and throws it in different directions. Human eyes cannot see the intense atmosphere, but they can notice its effect, which is twinkling of stars. The specks appear to be dancing because our planet’s atmosphere interacts with the light emitted by the stars.

    Since the atmosphere change constantly, the images taken by the aid of telescopes change in seconds. Astronomers can quickly tell when the atmosphere is rough or calm by easily checking the stars.

    If they twinkle, the atmosphere is turbulent, but if the stars standstill, it means that the atmosphere is relaxed. If a person can go out in a clear and calm night, the stars don’t appear to be twinkling since the light they produce is not disrupted by the violent atmosphere.

    10. What is the closest star to the earth?

     

    The Sun is the closest star. It is pretty amazing to know that although the Sun is 150 million kilometers away, it is the only star that is close to our planet. The sun is under the G2 yellow stars category.

    The Sun converts hydrogen into helium, and the astronomers have estimated that the sun has enough hydrogen reserved that can last for over 7 billion years. Interestingly, after consuming all the hydrogen gas present, the sun will turn into a bright red giant, which will probably consume the planets close to it.

     

    The Sun is the closest star to our planet, which is located 93,000,000 miles away, which is approximately 150,000,000 km.

    If a person were to use a car to travel to the closest star using a speed of 80 kilometers per hour, it would take more than 48 million years to reach there. Apart from the Sun, which is in the solar system, Alpha Centauri is the nearest star.

    Alpha Centauri is composed of three stars that are held together by gravity. Alpha Centauri is a bright star and orbits closely to Proxima Centauri. The distance separating the two stars equals the distance from the Sun to planet Uranus.

    They orbit in a common gravitational center after every 80 years. With our naked eyes, Alpha Centauri is a bright star that lies approximately 4.37 light-years from the Sun.

    Proxima Centauri is nearer compared to Alpha A and B since it is the nearest stellar neighbor, and it is estimated to be located 4.24 light-years away. The Sun, Alpha Centauri and Proxima Centauri are the only closest stars and move through the Milky Way.

    Astronomers suggest that it would take over 10,000 years for the stars in the Milky Way to pass each other. Plans by Breakthrough Starshot to visit Alpha Centauri are underway. They plan to send a tiny probe, and it would take over 20 years to reach there.

    In 2016, astronomers reported having detected a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. The newly discovered planet was 1.3 times larger than planet Earth. The astronomers further named the planet like Proxima b, which appeared to be a rocky world.

    The planet also showed to be a potentially habitable place. The planet was said to complete an orbit after every 11.2 Earth-days. Astronomers have not yet determined whether the planet exhibits habitability problems because of extreme conditions on either side of the planet.

    One side is hot, while the other side is very cold, not unless the wind will play an essential role in distributing the heat around that planet.

    11. What is the actual shape of the star?

    correct star shape

    People usually have a perception that a star is distorted. Some think that a star has four corners. What makes the stars to appear like they have an edge is the movement of atmosphere that reflects the light of stars sideways.

    Some scientists have described the reason why stars have a pointy shape is because we have an imperfection in our eyeballs. In reality, the stars have a spherical shape.

    Taking an example, when we want to build a tall building, the foundation must be strong so that the building won’t collapse. Stars are also like tall buildings, and they have a strong gravity that holds the stars together.

    Gravity pulls all the mass to the center for a longer time, thus giving it a spherical shape.

    12. How does a star die?

    Answering the question of how a star dies depends on its mass. Astronomers discovered that massive stars had a smaller lifespan compared to the tiny stars.

    During the star-forming process, most stars have a ratio of ¾ hydrogen gas and ¼ of helium gas in their core. Massive stars use the reserved hydrogen gas extravagantly and thus have a shorter lifespan. Massive stars burn and explode into a supernova after living for only a few million years.

    Stars with lesser mass like the Sun still have enough hydrogen that will probably last for 10 billion years. Smallest stars, which are ten times smaller than the Sun, will keep on converting hydrogen into helium for up to a trillion years.

    After a star has entirely exhausted its fuel supply, it collapses into a supernova whose explosion can be the most energetic explosion ever heard. A supernova usually outshines all stars in the galaxy.

    The remaining pieces form a black hole. If, for example, the collapsed star’s core was equivalent to 3 solar masses, the remnant will be 10-15 miles wide. However, the neutron degeneracy pressure prevents the star from total collapse.

    Stars with an average of 1.44 solar masses suffer less exotic fate. After all the hydrogen present at the core is consumed, stars in this stage swell into a big red giant object. After the swelling, the outer layer starts to peel off, leaving behind a white dwarf star.

    White dwarf stars have exhausted all the hydrogen gas and only rely on degeneracy pressure for support. In this stage, the star relies on the electrons to produce high energy rather than using the neutrons.

    After some years, the white dwarf stars eventually fade and becomes a black dwarf star. Astronomers have not yet spotted a black dwarf star because it takes millions of years for white dwarf stars to transform into black dwarf stars.

    In case white dwarf stars explode into a supernova, no remnants are left behind. People should note that the smallest stars have the most extended lifespan. Smallest stars are very economical in converting the hydrogen gas into helium gas.

    They burn very slowly and might even live for over 100 billion years. Little stars will live more years compared to the current age of our universe.

    Some more Interesting Facts-

    13.The temperature of a star defines its color

    Stars have different colors, be it red, white, or blue. For example, if the star has red color it means the star’s temperature is 3,500 Kelvin or below. Yellowish white stars like the Sun have an average temperature of 6,000 Kelvin. If you think the Sun is the hottest star, you are wrong since stars with blue color are the hottest and have temperatures above 12,000 Kelvin.

    14. The giant stars live for a shorter period.

    Massive stars like Eta Carinae live for a shorter period compared to other smaller stars. For example, Eta Carinae is classified as a massive star, and it is located 8,000 light-years away. Massive stars are believed to have over 150 solar masses, and it is estimated to use 4 million times of energy as a typical star. Although stars like Sun have more than seven billion years of converting hydrogen to helium, stars like Eta Carinae probably have only a few million years to live.

    15. People can’t see millions of stars on a clear night.

    Very often, we hear about millions of stars seen in poems and songs, but the truth is the stars are not close enough for a person to count all those stars. In an exceptional night, a person with sharp eyesight can only see about 2000-2500 stars at a go. Counting the number of stars is even very difficult because some are faintly seen. You should keep in mind that the numbers are exaggerated, and it is not valid.

    16. The black hole formed by a fallen star doesn’t attract all things toward it.

    Many authors have written misleading articles on black holes caused by stars suck everything around them. If it were true, even the planet we are living in would have been suckled by the hole. Instead, what happens is that all matters near the black hole are pulled in by strong gravitational attraction. Black holes are icy and calm.

     

    Sources

    https://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/questions/question26.html

    http://coolcosmos.ipac.caltech.edu/ask/213-Why-are-some-stars-bright-and-others-dim-

    http://teacherlink.ed.usu.edu/tlnasa/reference/imaginedvd/files/imagine/docs/ask_astro/answers/971110j.html


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