Five questions about stars answered (1)

Sparkling, intense and awe-inspiring orbs raise many questions. Sister magazine KIJK knows how to answer.

Since prehistoric times, people have created stories and theories to explain the stars. Throughout history, the study of stars has played a vital role in the development of science and technology. Everything is inspired by it, from math to telling time.

Since the seventeenth century, it has been thought that the stars may be other “suns”, unimaginably distant from Earth. Over the centuries, it has become apparent that there is a tremendous diversity of stars. Astronomers have found that the Sun is a “middle star” compared to some of the extreme stars elsewhere in our Milky Way galaxy and throughout the universe.

And the journey of discovery continues. There are now convincing theories by which we can explain how stars form and die, the sources of their inner strength and their various properties. New telescopes and satellites are constantly discovering new celestial bodies that test our thinking and arouse admiration and awe.

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1) Are we star dust?

Yeah. Generations of stars have made the universe contain more elements of light than the Big Bang formed. Everything from the calcium in our bones to the carbon in our DNA ultimately comes from the stars. Deep down, fusion causes the nuclei of lightweight atoms to fuse to form heavier atoms. The heavier the star, the more this process develops. Stars like the sun create elements like carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen during their lifetime and then disperse them into space when they die. The heavier stars release iron, gold and uranium when they explode in a supernova.

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2) What color can a star be?

A star’s color is a mixture of different wavelengths of light. Hotter materials emit short wavelength and emit high-energy blue and purple light. Cryogenic gases emit long wavelength which produces low energy red and orange light. White stars have an equal balance between the two.

3) What is in the star?

4) Why do the stars shine?

They do not. Gases in our atmosphere distract light. That’s why telescopes are built on mountains, above most of the sky. We see celestial bodies shining only when they are small points of light. The planets are close enough to be seen as small disks.

5) What is the most visible star?

This is a mysterious V762 Cassiopei, Which can be seen with the naked eye in a dark sky. It is about 15,000 light years away. At 2,600 light-years away, the farthest known star from Deneb, the brightest star in the constellation Hen, is the Swan. It is the 18th brightest star in the sky, and is believed to be 200,000 times brighter than the Sun.

This list can also be found at Know How’s Space special website.

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