Why are the stars different sizes? The answer is not as simple as it seems


2017-06-22 18:00:17




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Why are the stars different sizes? The answer is not as simple as it seems

Massive means large, less massive means small, right? It's not so easy when it comes to stars and their sizes. If you compare the planet Earth with the Sun, it turns out that you can place 109 our planets one to another, just to pave the way from one end to the other lights. But there are stars smaller than Earth, and much, much more of the Earth's orbit around the Sun. How is that possible? What determines the size of the stars? Why "the sun" so different?

A tough Question, because we almost do not see the size of the star.

Deep telescopic image of stars in the night sky clearly shows stars of different sizes and brightnesses, but all the stars are shown as dots. The difference in size is an optical illusion associated with saturation of the Supervisory cameras

Even in the telescope, most stars look like mere points of light because of the huge distances to us. Their differences in color and brightness is easy to see, but the size — quite the contrary. An object of a certain size at a certain distance will have a so-called angular diameter the apparent size that the object occupies in the sky. The closest to the Sun star alpha Centauri is just 4.3 light years from us and 22% more than the Sun in radius.

Two solar-like stars, alpha Centauri A and B, located just 4.37 light years from us and rotating around each other at a distance between Saturn and Neptune. Even in this picture of the Hubble they are seen as just saturated point sources; no disk is not visible

However, it seems to us that its angular diameter is only 0.007’, or seconds of arc. From 60 seconds of arc is one minute of arc; 60 minutes of arc is 1 degree, and 360 degrees — a full circle. Even a telescope like Hubble can see only 0.05"; in the Universe are very few stars that telescope can actually "see" in a decent resolution. As a rule, near the giant star like Betelgeuse or R Doradus is the largest angular diameter of the star in the sky.

the radio image is very, very big star Betelgeuse. One of the few stars that we see as larger than a point source, from the Earth

Fortunately, there are indirect measurements that allow us to calculate the physical size of the star, and they are incredibly hope. If you have a spherical object, which becomes so hot that it emits radiation, the total radiation emitted by a star is determined by two parameters: the temperature of the object and its physical dimensions. The reason for this is that the only place that emits light in the Universe is the surface of the star, and the surface area of the sphere is always calculated as a single equation: 4πr2, where r is the radius of the sphere. If you can measure the distance to this star, its temperature and brightness, you know its radius, and hence the size, simply because those are the laws of physics.

Close the red giant UY Scuti processed by means of a telescope Observatory Rutherford. This bright star can be only a "point" for most telescopes, but in fact it is the largest star known to humanity

When we make observations, we see that some stars have only a few tens of kilometers in size, and the other 1500 times greater than the Sun. Among the supergiant stars the largest is considered to be UY Scuti with a diameter of 2.4 billion kilometers, bigger than the orbit of Jupiter around the Sun. Of course, these incredible examples of stars you can't judge the majority. The most common types of stars are main sequence stars like our Sun: a star that consists of hydrogen and is supplied with energy through fusion of hydrogen into helium in its core. And they come in all sizes depending on the mass of the star itself.

a Young region of star formation in our own milky Way. As the gas cloud condensed under the force of gravity, a protostar heat up and become denser in their cores finally starts synthesis

When you have formed a star, the gravitational compression leads to the transformation of potential energy (gravitational potential energy) to kinetic (heat/motion) of a particle in the nucleus of the star. If mass is sufficient, the temperature will become high enough to ignite nuclear fusion in the innermost regions, where hydrogen nuclei turn into helium in the process chain reaction. In a star with a low mass of only a tiny part of the center will reach the threshold of 4 000 000 degrees and begin synthesis, and it will slowly leak. On the other hand, the biggest stars can be hundreds of times more massive than the Sun and reach temperatures-tens of millions of degrees, fusing hydrogen into helium at a speed millions of times faster than our Sun.

the Modern system of spectral classification Morgan-Keenan with temperature range of each star, shown above, in Kelvins. The overwhelming majority of stars (75%) stars are M-class, of which only 1 800 massive enough to become supernovae

The Smallest stars have smallest external flow and pressure of radiation, and the most massive are the large. This is the external radiation and the energy of the keep the star from gravitational collapse, but you may be surprised that the range is relatively narrow. The low-mass stars, red dwarfs, like Proxima Centauri, and VB 10 is only 10% of the size of the Sun, slightly more than Jupiter. But the big blue giant R136a1 250 times the Sun's mass, but only 30 times more in diameter. If you synthesize hydrogen into helium, the star will not be much change in size.

But not every star for the synthesis of hydrogen into helium. The small stars nothing synthesized, and the biggest are much more vigorous stage of their lives. We can split the stars into types by size and select the five General classes:

The Neutron star: the remains of a supernova that contains a lot of one-three of the sun, but compressed into one giant atomic nucleus. They still emit radiation, but in small quantities due to their size. Ordinary neutron star the size varies between 20 and 100 kilometers.

White dwarf star: formed when a star like the sun burns the last of the helium fuel in the core, and the outer layers swell when the internal compressed. Typically, a white dwarf star is from 0.5 to 1.4 solar masses, but the physical volume close to Earth: about 10,000 kilometers in diameter, composed of highly compressed atoms.

Stars of the main sequence: there are red dwarfs, stars like the Sun and blue giants, which we have already mentioned. Their sizes are very different, from 100 000 km to 30 000 000 kilometers. But even the largest of these stars, if you put her in her place the Sun will swallow mercury.

Red giants: demonstrate what happens when the core hydrogen ends. If you are a red dwarf (in which case you will simply become a white dwarf), the gravitational compression heats your core so that you begin to synthesize helium into carbon. The synthesis of helium in carbon emits much more energy than the fusion of hydrogen into helium, so the star is expanding strongly. Physics is that the outgoing power (radiation) on the border of the star must balance the incoming power (gravity) to the star were stable, and the more power that seeks out the greater will be the star. Red giants usually make 100-150, 000, 000 kilometers in diameter. This is enough to absorb mercury, Venus and possibly the Earth.

Supergiant stars: the most massive stars, which end with the synthesis of helium and begin to synthesize even heavier elements in nuclei: carbon, oxygen, silicon and sulfur. These stars destined to become supernovae, or black holes, but before that they will swell to billions of kilometers or even more. Among them are the large stars like Betelgeuse, and we put a star instead of our Sun, it would swallow all our solid planets, the asteroid belt, and even Jupiter.

the Sun is still relatively small compared to the giants, but will grow to the size of Arcturus in its red giant phase

For the youngest of all stars, such as neutron stars and white dwarfs, the rule is that the captured energy can only escape through a tiny surface area, which keeps them bright for a long time. But for all other stars the size is determined by a simple balance: the power of outgoing radiation at the surface needs to be directed inward gravitational attraction. Large radiation force means that the star swells to large proportions, and the biggest stars swell to billions of kilometers.

the Land, if the calculations are correct, will not be swallowed by the Sun in the red giant phase. But on the planet itself will be very hot in

The aging of the Sun its nucleus heats up, it expands and gets hotter with time. One to two billion years it will become hot enough to boil the Earth's oceans, if we get the planet to a safer orbit. In a few hundred million years the Sun will become big and bright. But let's face the truth: no matter how large, neither was our Sun, it will never be more massive than neutron stars and the largest supergiants, even if it is larger in size.



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