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Star Life And Death

This bow shock appeared near a young star in the Orion Nebula. Just like living organisms, stars have a life cycle. In the same way that you are born, develop, age and die, stars do the same things. One big difference is that stars don't need parents. Stars are born from huge clouds of gas and dust. It's amazing how that gas and dust are probably the most boring things in the universe and they can become everything, asteroids, planets and even stars. So you've got that huge cloud of dust and gas. Astronomers call that cloud a nebula. That's when it all starts to happen.


That nebula starts to condense. Slowly but surely over millions of years, gas particles start to cling to each other, then they attract other particles and molecules. The nebula begins to condense and form a ball. That ball is called a protostar. "Proto" is a prefix that means "early" or "before." So a protostar is the first step in becoming a full-fledged burning star.

Start The Fire

After the star finished the protostar phase, it becomes even denser. The heavy elements move to the center of the star while the light gases stay in the star's atmosphere. Those gases are usually hydrogen (H) and helium (He). Then something amazing happens, the nuclear fire begins. The star heats up and the gases ignite. This step in the development process is called the main sequence. If you looked, you would see the birth of the star.

Not All Of Them Make It

In the Solar System section we speak a little about Jupiter. Jupiter is a special planet in that it has a very similar makeup to the Sun. It has a low density and hydrogen and helium are the main components of the atmosphere. It is still missing one thing, nuclear fire. Jupiter could be the star that never was.

Next Stop On Cosmos4Kids Tour
Next Page on stars.
- Introduction
- Requirements
- Luminosity
- Classes
> Development
- Development II
- Black Holes


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Useful Reference Materials (Stellar Evolution):
Wikipedia (Stellar Evolution):
Encyclopædia Britannica (Formation of Stars):

- Cosmos4Kids: Star Development
- Chem4Kids: Matter
- Chem4Kids: Astrochemistry
- Chem4Kids: Atoms
- Chem4Kids: Hydrogen
- Chem4Kids: Helium
- Geography4Kids: Earth Energy
- Geography4Kids: Solar Radiation
- Physics4Kids: Magnetic Fields
- Physics4Kids: Light

- NASA: Home Page
- NASA: Kids Home Page
- ESA: Home Page
- ESA: Kids Home Page

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