What affects the ultimate fate of a star?

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Jim Geeting

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What affects the ultimate fate of a star?
« on: 14/06/2009 11:30:03 »
Jim Geeting  asked the Naked Scientists:
I've recently developed an interest in astronomy.  Hope you can clear up some contradictory explanations about the final phase in the life of a star.

Different astronomers and astrophysicists have stated stars end up as:

    - white dwarfs
    - pulsars
    - quasars
    - black holes

And lastly, one scientist claimed stars eventually contract into large diamonds.  

How confusing.  I'm sure beginning mass or size of the object may have something to do with this range of explanations.  

So, what does the final stage of life for a star look like?

Jim in Dallas

What do you think?


Offline Ophiolite

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What affects the ultimate fate of a star?
« Reply #1 on: 14/06/2009 14:00:59 »
You have correctly recognised that the central factor in the evolution of a star is its mass. Here is a grossly simplified summary.

Stars less than about twice the mass of the sun will pass through a red giant phase, then collapse to a white dwarf and eventually fade to a black dwarf.

Stars of greater mass will also go through a giant phase, then go supernova. Those less than twenty five times the mass of the sun will become neutron stars and those greater will become black holes. (Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars.)

Stars do not become quasars.

For more information Google (or Bing) stellar evolution. This is a good article to start with.
Observe; collate; conjecture; analyse; hypothesise; test; validate; theorise. Repeat until complete.


Offline thedoc

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