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Lesson Plan: Lifecycle of Stars

Learning Standard #12. Recognize that the universe contains many billions of galaxies, and
that each galaxy contains many billions of stars.

1. Assign homework: watch video on blog (7 minutes) review of stars and galaxies.

2. Hand back and review quizzes on asteroids, meteors, meteoroids, comets.

3. Review reading homework: Was the text helpful? What questions do you still have?
a. Size of stars
Stars are all different sizes (Sun is a medium-sized star, Betelgeuse is a supergiant
and would be as wide as Jupiters orbit, neutron stars can be as small as 20km wide)
Why do stars appear to be very similar in size when we look at them in the night sky?

b. Color and temperature of stars
Stars appear different colors because of temperature: blue 15,000C; white hot
10,000C; red is cooler 3,200C.
Whats something we see that changes color based on temperature? (flames, stove coils)
Have you ever noticed that stars are different colors?

c. Brightness of stars
Brightness: the amount of light that a star gives off. Brightness depends on size and
What are the two things that determine how bright a star looks from Earth? (distance
from Earth: apparent magnitude, and how bright it actually is: absolute magnitude)

d. H-R diagram
Herzsprung and Russell both plotted temperature and absolute magnitude to see if
there was a relationship between the two variables.
What are the two variables being plotted? (Luminosity and temperature)
What other variables are included in this plot? (Color and size)
What does this diagram tell us? Is there a pattern?
The diagonal line are MAIN SEQUENCE STARS: as brightness increases, so does
temperature. 90% of stars are main sequence. This tells diagram can tell us a lot about most
of the stars we see!
Where do Red Giants fit on this plot? White Dwarves?

4. Turn and Talk: Turn to your partner and come up with three facts about stars. Can you
come up with five? Where did you get this information? (Information we learned about the Sun
and its formation all apply to stars)

5. Introduction to Stars and Star Lifecycle Powerpoint presentation
a. Galaxies, stars, solar systems:
How many stars are in our solar system? What is a solar system? Is it bigger or smaller
than a galaxy, than a star?
Can we see all the stars in our galaxy? How many stars can we see? (~2000 stars)
Can we see the Milky Way? (A glowing strip in the sky, not individual stars!)
What is the shape of our galaxy? What does it look like? Where do we live in the galaxy?

b. Lifecycle of stars:
1. Protostar: dust cloud nebula- accretes due to gravity, heat and pressure in core, 10
million degrees allows for nuclear fusion to happen, no fusion = Brown Dwarf.

2. Main sequence stars: nuclear fusion hydrogen comes together to form helium. Why
doesnt nuclear fusion happen in Jupiter or planets made largely of hydrogen?)
Hydrogen fuels star for many billions of years (i.e. the Sun, 5 billion years more of fuel.

3. Later life: What happens when the hydrogen gets used up? What is there a lot of? Helium
fuses to become carbon and star becomes Red Giant. What does that name tell us? (red =
cooler, giant = bigger) Helium fusion generates more energy inside the star, star expands
(like putting more air into a balloon) and cools. Less dense = less intense gravitational
pull, what happens? Outer layers of gas get thrown off in planetary nebula (misnomer).

c. H-R Diagram
Bright = Hot! Red = Cool!
More on this tomorrow.

If time permits (which it never does): Finish with a great video that helps give a visual of what
this all looks like (6 minutes)