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Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects (such as stars, planets, comets, nebulae, star clusters and galaxies) and phenomena that originate outside the Earth's atmosphere (such as the cosmic background radiation). It is concerned with the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects, as well as the formation and development of the universe. Astronomy is one of the oldest sciences. Prehistoric cultures left behind astronomical artifacts such as the Egyptian monuments and Stonehenge, and early civilizations such as the Babylonians, Greeks, Chinese, and Indians performed methodical observations of the night sky. However, the invention of the telescope was required before astronomy was able to develop into a modern science. Historically, astronomy has included A giant Hubble mosaic of the Crab Nebula, a supernova remnant disciplines as diverse as astrometry, celestial navigation, observational astronomy, the making of calendars, and even astrology, but professional astronomy is nowadays often considered to be synonymous with astrophysics. During the 20th century, the field of professional astronomy split into observational and theoretical branches. Observational astronomy is focused on acquiring data from observations of celestial objects, which is then analyzed using basic principles of physics. Theoretical astronomy is oriented towards the development of computer or analytical models to describe astronomical objects and phenomena. The two fields complement each other, with theoretical astronomy seeking to explain the observational results, and observations being used to confirm theoretical results. Amateur astronomers have contributed to many important astronomical discoveries, and astronomy is one of the few sciences where amateurs can still play an active role, especially in the discovery and observation of transient phenomena. Ancient astronomy is not to be confused with astrology, the belief system which claims that human affairs are correlated with the positions of celestial objects. Although the two fields share a common origin and a part of their methods (namely, the use of ephemerides), they are distinct.[1]

The word astronomy (from the Greek words astron (ἄστρον), "star" and -nomy from nomos (νόμος), "law" or "culture") literally means "law of the stars" (or "culture of the stars" depending on the translation).

Use of terms "astronomy" and "astrophysics"
Generally, either the term "astronomy" or "astrophysics" may be used to refer to this subject.[2] [3] [4] Based on strict dictionary definitions, "astronomy" refers to "the study of objects and matter outside the Earth's atmosphere and of their physical and chemical properties"[5] and "astrophysics" refers to the branch of astronomy dealing with "the behavior, physical properties, and dynamic processes of celestial objects and phenomena".[6] In some cases, as in the introduction of the introductory textbook The Physical Universe by Frank Shu, "astronomy" may be used to describe

Astronomy the qualitative study of the subject, whereas "astrophysics" is used to describe the physics-oriented version of the subject.[7] However, since most modern astronomical research deals with subjects related to physics, modern astronomy could actually be called astrophysics.[2] Various departments that research this subject may use "astronomy" and "astrophysics", partly depending on whether the department is historically affiliated with a physics department,[3] and many professional astronomers actually have physics degrees.[4] One of the leading scientific journals in the field is named Astronomy and Astrophysics.


In early times, astronomy only comprised the observation and predictions of the motions of objects visible to the naked eye. In some locations, such as Stonehenge, early cultures assembled massive artifacts that likely had some astronomical purpose. In addition to their ceremonial uses, these observatories could be employed to determine the seasons, an important factor in knowing when to plant crops, as well as in understanding the length of the year.[8] Before tools such as the telescope were invented early study of the A celestial map from the 17th century, by the stars had to be conducted from the only vantage points available, Dutch cartographer Frederik de Wit. namely tall buildings and high ground using the naked eye. As civilizations developed, most notably in Mesopotamia, China, Egypt, Greece, India, and Central America, astronomical observatories were assembled, and ideas on the nature of the universe began to be explored. Most of early astronomy actually consisted of mapping the positions of the stars and planets, a science now referred to as astrometry. From these observations, early ideas about the motions of the planets were formed, and the nature of the Sun, Moon and the Earth in the universe were explored philosophically. The Earth was believed to be the center of the universe with the Sun, the Moon and the stars rotating around it. This is known as the geocentric model of the universe. A particularly important early development was the beginning of mathematical and scientific astronomy, which began among the Babylonians, who laid the foundations for the later astronomical traditions that developed in many other civilizations.[9] The Babylonians discovered that lunar eclipses recurred in a repeating cycle known as a saros.[10]

astronomy was mostly stagnant in medieval Europe. and the astronomers of the Maragheh and Samarkand observatories. Greek astronomy is characterized from the start by seeking a rational. However. 150–80 BC) was an early analog computer designed to calculating the location of the Sun. calculated the size and distance of the Moon and invented the earliest known astronomical devices such as the astrolabe.[11] In the 3rd century BC. Azophi. was discovered by the Persian astronomer Azophi and first described in his Book of Fixed Stars.[18] The SN 1006 supernova. Some of the prominent Islamic (mostly Persian and Arab) astronomers who made significant contributions to the science include Al-Battani. at least until the 13th century. the Andromeda Galaxy. present-day Afghanistan 3rd-2nd century BCE. Biruni. Alexandria on the Oxus. significant advances in astronomy were made in ancient Greece and the Hellenistic world. Albumasar. Thebit. astronomy flourished in the Islamic world and other parts of the world.[22] Europeans had previously believed that there had been no astronomical observation in pre-colonial Middle Ages sub-Saharan Africa but modern discoveries show otherwise. During the Middle Ages.[14] Greek equatorial sun dial. and was the first to propose a heliocentric model of the solar system. Astronomers during that time introduced many Arabic names now used for individual stars.[12] Hipparchus also created a comprehensive catalog of 1020 stars. Moon.[19] [20] It is also believed that the ruins at Great Zimbabwe and Timbuktu[21] may have housed an astronomical observatory. the nearest galaxy to the Milky Way. Technological artifacts of similar complexity did not reappear until the 14th century. and most of the constellations of the northern hemisphere derive are taken from Greek astronomy. Hipparchus discovered precession. and planets for a given date. and measured the size and distance of the Moon and Sun. Aristarchus of Samos calculated the size of the Earth. In the 2nd century BC. Al-Birjandi.[23] [24] [25] . the brightest apparent magnitude stellar event in recorded history. physical explanation for celestial phenomena. was observed by the Egyptian Arabic astronomer Ali ibn Ridwan and the Chinese astronomers in 1006. when mechanical astronomical clocks appeared in Europe. This led to the emergence of the first astronomical observatories in the Muslim world by the early 9th century.Astronomy 3 Following the Babylonians.[13] The Antikythera mechanism (c. Arzachel.[15] [16] [17] In 964.

and has used these observations to develop physical theories which describe some of these objects in terms of equally exotic objects such as black holes and neutron stars. . the first new planet found. Kepler did not succeed in formulating a theory behind the laws he wrote down.[27] It was left to Newton's invention of celestial dynamics and his law of gravitation to finally explain the motions of the planets. seen in the recession of most galaxies from us. Newton also developed the reflecting telescope. Hubble's law. blazars. More extensive star catalogues were produced by Lacaille. with the model of the Big Bang heavily supported by the evidence provided by astronomy and physics. attention to the three body problem by Euler. However. During the 18–19th centuries. the Milky Way. Fraunhofer discovered about 600 bands in the spectrum of the Sun in 1814–15. Galileo innovated by using telescopes to enhance his observations. and corrected by Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler. in 1859. expanded upon. masses. Clairaut. Stars were proven to be similar to the Earth's own Sun. Nicolaus Copernicus proposed a heliocentric model of the solar system. Physical cosmology made huge advances during the 20th century. His work was defended. and cosmological abundances of elements. allowing the masses of the planets and moons to be estimated from their perturbations. and soon after.[31] Modern astronomy has also discovered many exotic objects such as quasars.[26] Kepler was the first to devise a system that described correctly the details of the motion of the planets with the Sun at the center. including the spectroscope and photography. pulsars.[29] Galileo's sketches and observations of the Moon revealed that the surface was mountainous. the expansion of the Universe. as a separate group of stars. and in 1781 discovered the planet Uranus.[30] Significant advances in astronomy came about with the introduction of new technology. and sizes. along with the existence of "external" galaxies. and radio galaxies.[26] Further discoveries paralleled the improvements in the size and quality of the telescope. which. such as the cosmic microwave background radiation.[28] The distance to a star was first announced in 1838 when the parallax of 61 Cygni was measured by Friedrich Bessel.[19] The existence of the Earth's galaxy. and D'Alembert led to more accurate predictions about the motions of the Moon and planets. The astronomer William Herschel made a detailed catalog of nebulosity and clusters. Kirchhoff ascribed to the presence of different elements. was only proved in the 20th century. but with a wide range of temperatures.Astronomy 4 Scientific revolution During the Renaissance. This work was further refined by Lagrange and Laplace.

Consequently. infrared radiation is heavily absorbed by the atmosphere.Astronomy 5 Observational astronomy In astronomy. the main source of information about celestial bodies and other objects is the visible light or more generally electromagnetic radiation. Longer infrared wavelengths can also penetrate clouds of dust that block visible light. The infrared spectrum is useful for studying objects that are too cold to radiate visible light. most of the radio emission that is observed from Earth is seen in the form of synchrotron radiation. allowing observation of young stars in molecular clouds and the cores of galaxies.[35] .[32] Observational astronomy may be divided according to the observed region of the electromagnetic spectrum. which is produced when electrons oscillate around magnetic fields. Radio astronomy is different from most other forms of observational astronomy in that the observed radio waves can be treated as waves rather than as discrete photons.[7] [33] A wide variety of objects are observable at radio wavelengths. Hence. infrared observatories have to be located in high. Radio astronomy The Very Large Array in New Mexico.[33] Although some radio waves are produced by astronomical objects in the form of thermal emission. it is relatively easier to measure both the amplitude and phase of radio waves.[33] Additionally. Except at wavelengths close to visible light. dry places or in space. Specific information on these subfields is given below.[7] [33] Infrared astronomy Infrared astronomy deals with the detection and analysis of infrared radiation (wavelengths longer than red light). such as planets and circumstellar disks. interstellar gas. and active galactic nuclei. This can be used to study chemistry in space. and the atmosphere produces significant infrared emission. Some parts of the spectrum can be observed from the Earth's surface. including supernovae. notably the hydrogen spectral line at 21 cm. while other parts are only observable from either high altitudes or space. a number of spectral lines produced by interstellar gas. whereas this is not as easily done at shorter wavelengths. an example of a radio telescope Radio astronomy studies radiation with wavelengths greater [33] than approximately one millimeter. are observable at radio wavelengths. more specifically it can detect water in comets. pulsars.[34] Some molecules radiate strongly in the infrared.

[36] the same equipment used at these wavelengths is also used to observe some near-ultraviolet and near-infrared radiation. including the infamous X-ray photograph he took of his wife's hand with a wedding ring on it. an appropriate adjustment of ultraviolet measurements is necessary. Gamma rays may be observed directly by satellites such as the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory or by specialized telescopes called atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes. Through a series of experiments. according to the website.[37] . Furthermore. both examples of an observatory that operates at near-infrared and visible wavelengths. a German scientist who found them quite by accident when experimenting with vacuum tubes. supernova remnants. The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (right) is an example of a telescope that operates only at near-infrared wavelengths. as ultraviolet light is easily absorbed by interstellar dust. all X-ray observations must be performed from high-altitude balloons. clusters of galaxies. as it represents Röntgen's inability to identify exactly what type of radiation it was. X-rays are still sometimes referred to as Röntgen rays. supernova remnants. which have been the targets of several ultraviolet surveys. thermal emission from thin gases above 107 (10 million) kelvins. in some German speaking countries. images were made using photographic equipment. Röntgen was able to discover the beginning elements of radiation. objects emit X-ray radiation as synchrotron emission (produced by electrons oscillating around magnetic field lines). elliptical galaxies.[36] Optical images were originally drawn by hand. in honor of the man who discovered them. and active galactic nuclei. Although visible light itself extends from approximately 4000 Å to 7000 Å (400 nm to 700 nm). Gamma-ray astronomy Gamma ray astronomy is the study of astronomical objects at the shortest wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. This includes the blue stars in other galaxies. X-rays were first observed and documented in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen.[33] The Cherenkov telescopes do not actually detect the gamma rays directly but instead detect the flashes of visible light produced when gamma rays are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. and thermal emission from thick gases above 107 Kelvin. In the late 19th century and most of the 20th century. Ultraviolet astronomy Ultraviolet astronomy is generally used to refer to observations at ultraviolet wavelengths between approximately 100 and 3200 Å (10 to 320 nm).[33] Since X-rays are absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. Other objects commonly observed in ultraviolet light include planetary nebulae. particularly detectors using charge-coupled devices (CCDs). Modern images are made using digital detectors.[33] According to NASA's official website.[33] Light at these wavelengths is absorbed by the Earth's atmosphere. Notable X-ray sources include X-ray binaries. in fact. holds its own significance. is the oldest form of astronomy. also called visible light astronomy. Typically. The "X". pulsars. or spacecraft.Astronomy 6 Optical astronomy Historically. optical astronomy.[33] The Subaru Telescope (left) and Keck Observatory (center) on Mauna Kea. X-ray astronomy X-ray astronomy is the study of astronomical objects at X-ray wavelengths. rockets. so observations at these wavelengths must be performed from the upper atmosphere or from space. and active galactic nuclei.[33] However. Ultraviolet astronomy is best suited to the study of thermal radiation and spectral emission lines from hot blue stars (OB stars) that are very bright in this wave band.

which consist of very high energy particles that can decay or be absorbed when they enter the Earth's atmosphere. objects which only produce gamma radiation for a few milliseconds to thousands of seconds before fading away. and sample return missions that allow direct laboratory examination.[33] Gravitational wave astronomy is an emerging new field of astronomy which aims to use gravitational wave detectors to collect observational data about compact objects. Moon. result in a cascade of particles which can be detected by current observatories. These steady gamma-ray emitters include pulsars.[42] .[33] 7 Fields not based on the electromagnetic spectrum In addition to electromagnetic radiation. Historically.[40] The measurement of stellar parallax of nearby stars provides a fundamental baseline in the cosmic distance ladder that is used to measure the scale of the universe. with the Earth.[38] Additionally.Astronomy Most gamma-ray emitting sources are actually gamma-ray bursts. landing vehicles that can perform experiments on the surface materials. impactors that allow remote sensing of buried material. the astrometric technique of measuring the stellar wobble was used to detect large extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. is the measurement of the positions of celestial objects. and an ability to determine past and future positions of the planets with great accuracy. planets and stars has been essential in celestial navigation and in the making of calendars. but gravitational waves are extremely difficult to detect. More recently the tracking of near-Earth objects will allow for predictions of close encounters. astronomers use special underground facilities such as SAGE. GALLEX. and Kamioka II/III for detecting neutrinos. such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory LIGO. These neutrinos originate primarily from the Sun but also from supernovae. and in all of science. Parallax measurements of nearby stars provide an absolute baseline for the properties of more distant stars. These observations include fly-by missions with remote sensors. A few observatories have been constructed. and black hole candidates such as active galactic nuclei. a field known as celestial mechanics. Only 10% of gamma-ray sources are non-transient sources. because their properties can be compared.[41] During the 1990s. Measurements of radial velocity and proper motion show the kinematics of these systems through the Milky Way galaxy. In neutrino astronomy.[39] Planetary astronomers have directly observed many of these phenomena through spacecraft and sample return missions. neutron stars. a few other events originating from great distances may be observed from the Earth. and potential collisions. some future neutrino detectors may also be sensitive to the particles produced when cosmic rays hit the Earth's atmosphere. accurate knowledge of the positions of the Sun.[33] Cosmic rays. Careful measurement of the positions of the planets has led to a solid understanding of gravitational perturbations. Astrometry and celestial mechanics One of the oldest fields in astronomy. Astrometric results are also used to measure the distribution of dark matter in the galaxy.

[45] as their discovery and controversy originated during the study of the galaxies.Astronomy 8 Theoretical astronomy Theoretical astronomers use a wide variety of tools which include analytical models (for example. This helps observers look for data that can refute a model or help in choosing between several alternate or conflicting models. Cosmic inflation. Astrophysical relativity serves as a tool to gauge the properties of large scale structures for which gravitation plays a significant role in physical phenomena investigated and as the basis for black hole (astro)physics and the study of gravitational waves. origin of cosmic rays. In the case of an inconsistency. In some cases. a large amount of inconsistent data over time may lead to total abandonment of a model.[43] [44] Theorists in astronomy endeavor to create theoretical models and figure out the observational consequences of those models. general relativity and physical cosmology. polytropes to approximate the behaviors of a star) and computational numerical simulations. the general tendency is to try to make minimal modifications to the model to fit the data. Numerical models can reveal the existence of phenomena and effects that would otherwise not be seen. galaxy formation. COBE Theoretical model Explains/predicts Self-gravitating system Emergence of a star system Stellar evolution Expanding universe How the stars shine and how metals formed Age of the Universe Quantum fluctuations Gravitational collapse X-ray astronomy Cosmic inflation General relativity Flatness problem Black holes at the center of Andromeda galaxy CNO cycle in stars Dark matter and dark energy are the current leading topics in astronomy. A few examples of this process: Physical process Gravitation Nuclear fusion The Big Bang Experimental tool Radio telescopes Spectroscopy Hubble Space Telescope. Topics studied by theoretical astronomers include: stellar dynamics and evolution. Analytical models of a process are generally better for giving insight into the heart of what is going on. dark matter. Each has some advantages. . including string cosmology and astroparticle physics. Theorists also try to generate or modify models to take into account new data. Some widely accepted and studied theories and models in astronomy. now included in the Lambda-CDM model are the Big Bang. large-scale structure of matter in the Universe. and fundamental theories of physics.

and finally the Oort Cloud. Earth. The Sun is not considered a variable star. NASA image. where the plasma conveys the energy flux by means of radiation. then by the super-heated corona. Saturn. swirling column of Martian atmosphere (comparable to a terrestrial tornado) created the long. At the center of the Sun is the core region.6 Gyr in age. and Mars. and other bodies orbiting the Sun. initially through telescopes and then later by spacecraft. the asteroid belt. This has provided a good overall understanding of the formation and evolution of this planetary system. This moving. and the outer planets. with time. a volume of sufficient temperature and pressure for nuclear fusion to occur. asteroids. a typical main-sequence dwarf star of stellar class G2 V. and about 4.Astronomy 9 Specific subfields Solar astronomy At a distance of about eight light-minutes. .[49] Planetary science This astronomical field examines the assemblage of planets. Uranus. became protoplanets. Sunspots are regions of lower-than.[46] A solar wind of plasma particles constantly streams outward from the Sun until it reaches the heliopause.[48] An ultraviolet image of the Sun's active photosphere as viewed by the TRACE space telescope. although many new discoveries are still being made. comets. This solar wind interacts with the magnetosphere of the Earth to create the Van Allen radiation belts. It is believed that this convection zone creates the magnetic activity that generates sun spots. increasing by 40% since it first became a main-sequence star. and only those planets The black spot at the top is a dust devil climbing a crater wall on Mars. the disk formed clumps of matter that. The outer gas giant planets are Jupiter. Venus. This is an 11-year fluctuation in sunspot numbers. dark streak. The radiation pressure of the solar wind then expelled most of the unaccreted matter.[50] The solar system is subdivided into the inner planets.[51] Beyond Neptune lies the Kuiper Belt. is believed to have caused the Little Ice Age phenomenon during the Middle Ages. and accretion. Above this layer is a thin region known as the chromosphere. for example.[47] The Maunder minimum. The Sun has also undergone periodic changes in luminosity that can have a significant impact on the Earth. and Neptune. but it does undergo periodic changes in activity known as the sunspot cycle. collision. The planets were formed in the protoplanetary disk that surrounded the early Sun. which may extend as far as a light-year. The solar system has been relatively well-studied. as well as extrasolar planets. dwarf planets. The inner terrestrial planets consist of Mercury. as well as the aurora where the lines of the Earth's magnetic field descend into the atmosphere. NASA photo The visible outer surface of the Sun is called the photosphere. Through a process that included gravitational attraction. moons.[46] The Sun has steadily increased in luminosity over the course of its life.average temperatures that are associated with intense magnetic activity. the most frequently studied star is the Sun. This is surrounded by a transition region of rapidly increasing temperatures. Above the core is the radiation zone. The outer layers form a convection zone where the gas material transports energy primarily through physical displacement of the gas.

and evolve into white dwarfs. core region will trigger nuclear fusion. so that the star both expands in size. or tidal heating. Very massive stars can also undergo a series of decreasing evolutionary phases.Astronomy with sufficient mass retained their gaseous atmosphere.[53] A planet or moon's interior heat is produced from the collisions that created the body. the remaining matter during a period of intense bombardment. This process can form a stony or metallic core. and their geological activity ceases with the exception of impact cratering. all new stars (and their planetary systems) would be formed from hydrogen and helium alone.[62] . and from computer simulations of the interior. a black hole. known as giant molecular clouds. surrounded by a mantle and an outer surface. Those that accumulate or retain an atmosphere can also undergo surface erosion from wind or water. the leading hypothesis for how the Moon was formed. this hydrogen fuel is completely converted into helium. The astrophysics of stars has been determined through observation and theoretical understanding. to form a protostar. which can protect their atmospheres from solar wind stripping. before the helium fuel is in turn consumed. without tidal heating.[57] The final fate of the star depends on its mass. and some planetary cores generate their own magnetic field. Some planets and moons accumulate enough heat to drive geologic processes such as volcanism and tectonics. When destabilized.[58] while smaller stars form planetary nebulae. The planets continued to sweep up.[61] Planetary nebulae and supernovae are necessary for the distribution of metals to the interstellar medium. A sufficiently dense. if the stellar mass was at least three times that of the Sun. The core may include solid and liquid regions.[54] 10 Stellar astronomy The study of stars and stellar evolution is fundamental to our understanding of the universe. and the star begins to evolve. Ejecting gas from the dying central star shows symmetrical patterns unlike the chaotic patterns of ordinary explosions.g. thorium. The characteristics of the resulting star depend primarily upon its starting mass. with stars of mass greater than about eight times the Sun becoming core collapse supernovae. some of the protoplanets may have collided. such as mass transfer onto a white dwarf companion that can potentially cause a supernova. uranium. evidenced by the many impact craters on the Moon. the greater its luminosity. Over time. and hot. and the more rapidly it expends the hydrogen fuel in its core. as they fuse increasingly heavier elements. and increases in core density. The more massive the star. The resulting red giant enjoys a brief life span. During this period. without them.[55] Star formation occurs in dense regions of dust and gas.[55] The Ant planetary nebula.[56] Almost all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium were created inside the cores of stars. Smaller bodies. the materials with different densities segregate within.[60] Close binary stars can follow more complex evolutionary paths. cloud fragments can collapse under the influence of gravity. radioactive materials (e. The fusion of helium requires a higher core temperature.[52] Once a planet reaches sufficient mass. thus creating a main-sequence star. or.[59] The remnant of a supernova is a dense neutron star. and 26Al). cool more quickly. or eject. during planetary differentiation.

they transform the cloud into an H II region of glowing gas and plasma. population II stars. In the densest regions. a bar-shaped bulge with what is believed to be a supermassive black hole at the center. as well as relatively dense concentrations of stars known as globular clusters. dust. often leaving behind one or more young open clusters of stars. These clusters gradually disperse. It is a rotating mass of gas. population I stars.[63] [64] Observed structure of the Milky Way's spiral arms Between the stars lies the interstellar medium. These begin as a compact pre-stellar core or dark nebulae.[56] As the more massive stars appear. and the stars join the population of the Milky Way. The disk is surrounded by a spheroid halo of older. which concentrate and collapse (in volumes determined by the Jeans length) to form compact protostars. This is a region of active star formation that contains many younger.[66] . The stellar wind and supernova explosions from these stars eventually serve to disperse the cloud.[65] Kinematic studies of matter in the Milky Way and other galaxies have demonstrated that there is more mass than can be accounted for by visible matter. a region of sparse matter. molecular clouds of molecular hydrogen and other elements create star-forming regions.Astronomy 11 Galactic astronomy Our solar system orbits within the Milky Way. As the Earth is located within the dusty outer arms. although the nature of this dark matter remains undetermined. a barred spiral galaxy that is a prominent member of the Local Group of galaxies. held together by mutual gravitational attraction. stars and other objects. In the center of the Milky Way is the core. A dark matter halo appears to dominate the mass. This is surrounded by four primary arms that spiral from the core. there are large portions of the Milky Way that are obscured from view.

the universe underwent several evolutionary stages. Fundamental to modern cosmology is the well-accepted theory of the big bang. and are neither spiral nor elliptical. and the examination of active galaxies.7 Gyr to its present condition.[70] In the course of this expansion. and Blazars. Elliptical galaxies are more commonly found at the core of galactic clusters. The collective matter is formed into filaments and walls. leaving large voids in between. usually thought to be a super-massive black hole that is emitting radiation from in-falling material. Quasars are believed to be the most consistently luminous objects in the known universe. and is powered by a compact region at the core.Astronomy 12 Extragalactic astronomy The study of objects outside our galaxy is a branch of astronomy concerned with the formation and evolution of Galaxies.[68] The large-scale structure of the cosmos is represented by groups and clusters of galaxies.[70] The concept of the big bang can be traced back to the discovery of the microwave background radiation in 1965. loop-shaped objects that are multiple images of the same galaxy. and is emitting immense plumes or lobes of gas. duplicated by the gravitational lens effect of the cluster of yellow galaxies near the middle of the photograph. rotating disk. A spiral galaxy is organized into a flat. it is theorized that the universe experienced a very rapid cosmic inflation. The latter is important for the understanding of the large-scale structure of the cosmos. wherein our universe began at a single point in time. This structure is organized in a hierarchy of groupings. Both the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are spiral galaxies.[69] Cosmology Cosmology (from the Greek κόσμος "world. The stars move along random orbits with no preferred direction. The arms are dusty regions of star formation where massive young stars produce a blue tint. Quasars. Active galaxies that emit high-energy radiation include Seyfert galaxies. An active galaxy is a formation that is emitting a significant amount of its energy from a source other than stars. Spiral galaxies are typically surrounded by a halo of older stars.) . dust and gas. and trailing bright arms that spiral outward. have provided a deep understanding of the formation and evolution of the cosmos. and thereafter expanded over the course of 13. Irregular galaxies are chaotic in appearance. universe" and λόγος "word. Most galaxies are organized into distinct shapes that allow for classification schemes. and generally older stars. few star-forming regions. They are commonly divided into spiral. usually with a prominent bulge or bar at the center. their morphology and classification. and the groups and clusters of galaxies. Thereafter. which homogenized the starting conditions. and the peculiar shapes of such galaxies may be the result of gravitational interaction.[67] As the name suggests. nucleosynthesis produced the elemental abundance of the early universe. a branch known as physical cosmology. This image shows several blue. In the very early moments. These galaxies contain little or no interstellar dust. an elliptical galaxy has the cross-sectional shape of an ellipse.[70] (See also nucleocosmochronology. About a quarter of all galaxies are irregular. The lens is produced by the cluster's gravitational field that bends light to magnify and distort the image of a more distant object. Observations of the large-scale structure of the universe. with the largest being the superclusters. and may be formed through mergers of large galaxies. study") could be considered the study of the universe as a whole. elliptical and Irregular galaxies. A radio galaxy is an active galaxy that is very luminous in the radio portion of the spectrum.

then into larger-scale superclusters. Matter accumulated in the densest regions. The study of chemicals found in space. and a variety of deep-sky objects such as star clusters.[76] [77] Most amateurs work at visible wavelengths. Cosmochemistry is the study of the chemicals found within the Solar System. This includes the use of infrared Amateur astronomers can build their filters on conventional telescopes. forming clouds of gas and the earliest stars.[74] 13 Interdisciplinary studies Astronomy and astrophysics have developed significant interdisciplinary links with other major scientific fields. A number of amateur astronomers use either homemade telescopes or use radio telescopes which were originally built for astronomy research but which are now available to amateurs (e. As "forensic astronomy". sky at radio wavelengths in the 1930s. amateur astronomers observe a variety of celestial objects and phenomena sometimes with equipment that they build themselves. Over time. Gradually. finally.g. Astrobiology is the study of the advent and evolution of biological systems in the universe. is called astrochemistry. and were often organized into groups and clusters of galaxies.[71] A hierarchical structure of matter began to form from minute variations in the mass density. but a small minority experiment with wavelengths outside the visible spectrum. with particular emphasis on the possibility of non-terrestrial life. stars. methods from astronomy have been used to solve problems of law and history. involves the taking of photos of the night sky. including the origins of the elements and variations in the isotope ratios. or types of events which interest them.[73] Fundamental to the structure of the universe is the existence of dark matter and dark energy.[75] Collectively. although they may also appear in low temperature stars. Both of these fields represent an overlap of the disciplines of astronomy and chemistry. these pulled in more matter. galaxies. brown dwarfs and planets. such as pioneer of amateur radio astronomy was Karl Jansky. much effort is expended in trying to understand the physics of these components. leaving voids in the gaps. meteor showers. One branch of amateur astronomy. releasing the energy viewed today as the microwave background radiation. These substances are usually found in molecular clouds. The expanding universe then underwent a Dark Age due to the lack of stellar energy sources. utilizing archaeological and anthropological evidence. Archaeoastronomy is the study of ancient or traditional astronomies in their cultural context. amateur astrophotography.Astronomy When the first atoms formed. who started observing the Stellafane. These massive stars triggered the reionization process and are believed to have created many of the heavy elements in the early universe which tend to decay back to the lighter elements extending the cycle. For this reason. and can hold star parties and gatherings. space became transparent to radiation. and nebulae. interaction and destruction. types of objects. Common targets of amateur astronomers include the Moon. comets. planets.[72] Gravitational aggregations clustered into filaments.[78] [79] . Amateur astronomy Astronomy is one of the sciences to which amateurs can contribute the most. including their formation. and also the use of radio telescopes. These are now thought to be the dominant components. organizations of gas and dust merged to form the first primitive galaxies. Many amateurs like to specialize in the observation of particular objects. forming 96% of the mass of the universe. The own equipment. the One-Mile Telescope).

2009 was declared to be the International Year of Astronomy (IYA2009). stimulating worldwide interest not only in astronomy but science in general. Improvements in digital technology have allowed amateurs to make impressive advances in the field of astrophotography. could this be the result of cosmological natural selection? What caused the cosmic inflation that produced our homogeneous universe? Why is there a baryon asymmetry? • What is the nature of dark matter and dark energy? These dominate the evolution and fate of the cosmos. with the resolution being made official on 20 December 2008. Answers to these may require the construction of new ground. it is one of the few scientific disciplines where amateurs can still make significant contributions. IYA2009 was intended to be a global celebration of astronomy and its contributions to society and culture.and space-based instruments. why do astronomers observe the same distribution of stellar masses – the initial mass function – apparently regardless of the initial conditions?[83] A deeper understanding of the formation of stars and planets is needed. is there other intelligent life? If so.[80] [81] [82] 14 Major problems Although the scientific discipline of astronomy has made tremendous strides in understanding the nature of the universe and its contents. They can also discover comets. and perform regular observations of variable stars.Astronomy Amateur astronomers continue to make scientific contributions to the field of astronomy. and possibly new developments in theoretical and experimental physics. Scientific and Cultural matters. yet their true nature remains unknown. Indeed.[86] What will be the ultimate fate of the universe?[87] • How did the first galaxies form? How did supermassive black holes form? • What is creating the ultra-high-energy cosmic rays? International Year of Astronomy 2009 During the 62nd General Assembly of the UN. Amateurs can make occultation measurements that are used to refine the orbits of minor planets.[84] [85] Is the Solar System normal or atypical? • What caused the Universe to form? Is the premise of the Fine-tuned universe hypothesis correct? If so. there remain some important unanswered questions. with a particular slant towards young people. what is the explanation for the Fermi paradox? The existence of life elsewhere has important scientific and philosophical implications. • What is the origin of the stellar mass spectrum? That is. See also . • Is there other life in the Universe? Especially. it was also endorsed by UNESCO – the UN body responsible for Educational. A global scheme laid out by the International Astronomical Union (IAU).

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if not all. A common form is the elliptical galaxy.[7] [8] Most galaxies are 1. . celestiamotherlode. These larger structures are generally arranged into sheets and filaments. edu/ books/ clab/ [98] http:/ / ads. htm [93] http:/ / www. Such interactions between nearby galaxies.[5] which has an ellipse-shaped light profile. the Solar System includes the Earth and all the other objects that orbit the Sun. meaning "milky. may induce episodes of significantly increased star formation. gutenberg. The Sun is one of the stars in the Milky Way galaxy. They . astronomy2009. NGC 4414. and various interstellar clouds. vega. star clusters. gsfc. is about 17. Spiral galaxies are disk-shaped assemblages with dusty. org [92] http:/ / www. which. [88] http:/ / www.000 parsecs in diameter and approximately 20 million parsecs distant. org. aip.[10] Intergalactic space (the space between galaxies) is filled with a tenuous gas of an average density less than one atom per cubic meter.000[9]  parsecs in diameter and are usually separated by distances on the order of millions of parsecs (or megaparsecs). Gary (2005-12-15). nz [94] http:/ / www. can form larger groups called superclusters. astronomy. a typical spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices.Astronomy [87] Hinshaw. net. all orbiting the galaxy's center of mass. galaxies. at/ elib/ index. The majority of galaxies are organized into a hierarchy of associations called clusters. google. Galaxies may contain many multiple star systems. google. uk/ video/ subseries/ 16 [97] http:/ / ads. com/ ?id=kd4VEZv8oo0C& dq [91] http:/ / www. and typically result from disruption by the gravitational pull of neighboring galaxies. Galaxies with irregular or unusual shapes are known as irregular galaxies. html). an interstellar medium of gas and dust. php5?title=Astronomy_-_A_History_-_George_Forbes_-_1909 [96] http:/ / www. php/ [95] http:/ / www.[11] Although it is not yet well understood.[6] There are probably more than 170 billion (1. harvard. which may ultimately result in galaxies merging. com/ books?id=hcLXcpUDqPgC& printsec=frontcover [90] http:/ / books. dark matter appears to account for around 90% of the mass of most galaxies. net/ catalog/ educational. org/ etext/ 8172 [89] http:/ / books. Retrieved 2007-05-28. in turn." a reference to the Milky Way galaxy. galaxies have been categorized according to their apparent shape (usually referred to as their visual morphology). org/ history/ cosmology/ index.7 × 1011) galaxies in the observable universe. literature.000 to 100. gov/ m_uni/ uni_101fate. Historically. Small galaxies that lack a coherent structure could also be referred to as irregular galaxies. curving arms. harvard. NASA WMAP. producing what is called a starburst galaxy. "What is the Ultimate Fate of the Universe?" (http:/ / map. gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants. Typical galaxies range from dwarfs with as few as ten million[3] (107) stars up to giants with a hundred trillion[4] (1014) stars. nasa. Observational data suggests that supermassive black holes may exist at the center of many. edu/ books/ claj/ 18 Galaxy A galaxy is a massive. and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter.[1] [2] The name is from the Greek root galaxias [γαλαξίας]. which surround immense voids in the universe.

C. parallels discoveries that were made about the Milky Way and other nebulae in the night sky. numerous and close together" and that the "ignition takes place in the upper part of the atmosphere. on Hera's breast while she is asleep so that the baby will drink her divine milk and will thus become immortal. the Milky Way was celestial.[18] .) proposed that the bright band on the night sky known as the Milky Way might consist of distant stars.[16] Aristotle (384–322 B.Galaxy are proposed to be the primary cause of active galactic nuclei found at the core of some galaxies. the Galaxyë  Which men clepeth the Milky Wey. he used the name spiral nebula for certain objects such as M31." —Geoffrey Chaucer.). the infant Heracles. meaning "milky circle" for its appearance in the sky. However. so this expression fell into disuse and the objects instead became known as galaxies. or kyklos galaktikos. arguing that if the Milky Way were sublunary it should appear different at different times and places on the Earth. The Milky Way The Greek philosopher Democritus (450–370 B. galaxias (γαλαξίας). the Milky Way. in fact. many other galaxies. which it does not. producing the faint band of light known as the Milky Way. believed the Milky Way to be caused by "the ignition of the fiery exhalation of some stars which were large. to distinguish it from the billions of other galaxies. In Greek mythology. the capitalized word 'Galaxy' is used to refer to our galaxy. and that there were. c.[13] In the astronomical literature. "See yonder. Zeus places his son born by a mortal woman. when the true distance to these objects began to be appreciated.  For hit is whyt.[15] Observation history The realization that we live in a galaxy.) criticized Galactic Center of Milky Way and a meteor this view. These would later be recognized as immense conglomerations of stars. lo.C. The term Milky Way first appeared in the English language in a poem by Chaucer. The Milky Way galaxy appears to harbor at least one such object within its nucleus.[12] 19 Etymology The word galaxy derives from the Greek term for our own galaxy. Hera wakes up while breastfeeding and then realizes she is nursing an unknown baby: she pushes the baby away and a jet of her milk sprays the night sky. and that it should have parallax.D.[14] When William Herschel constructed his catalog of deep sky objects. 495-570 A. however. In his view. The House of Fame. the word Universe was understood to mean the entirety of existence. This idea would be influential later in the Islamic world. in the region of the world which is continuous with the heavenly motions."[17] The Neoplatonist philosopher Olympiodorus the Younger (c. 1380. and they would be termed island universes.

small (diameter about 15 kiloparsecs) ellipsoid galaxy with the Sun close to the center. in his An original theory or new hypothesis of the Universe. The resulting disk of stars can be seen as a band on the sky from our perspective inside the disk. the Milky Way.[30] [31] These were the first galaxies other than the Milky Way to be observed from Earth.[17] The Syrian-born Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya (1292–1350) proposed the Milky Way galaxy to be "a myriad of tiny stars packed together in the sphere of the fixed stars". speculated (correctly) that Milky Way was a flattened disk of stars.[25] In a treatise in 1755. it was very remote from the Earth and did not belong to the atmosphere."[20] The Persian astronomer Abū Rayhān al-Bīrūnī (973–1048) proposed the Milky Way galaxy to be "a collection of countless fragments of the nature of nebulous stars. speculated (correctly) that the galaxy might be a rotating body of a huge number of stars held together by gravitational forces. the solar system was assumed to be near the approach. emerged.Galaxy The Arabian astronomer. 1138) proposed that the Milky Way was made up of many stars that almost touch one another and appear to be a continuous image due to the effect of refraction from sublunary material. describing it as a "small cloud".[24] In 1750 Thomas Wright.[29] Al-Sufi also identified the Large Magellanic Cloud. the Persian astronomer. The first attempt to describe the shape of the Milky Way and the position of the Sun in it was carried out by William Herschel in 1785 by carefully counting the number of stars in different regions of the sky. Alhazen (965–1037).[19] and he thus "determined that because the Milky Way had no parallax. Immanuel Kant elaborated on Wright's idea about the structure of the Milky Way.[17] [22] citing his observation of the conjunction of Jupiter and Mars as evidence of this occurring when two objects are near. A different method by Harlow Shapley based on the cataloguing of globular clusters led to a radically different picture: a flat disk with diameter approximately 70 kiloparsecs and the Sun far from the center. In 1750 Thomas Wright.[23] Actual proof of the Milky Way consisting of many stars came in 1610 when Galileo Galilei used a telescope to study the Milky Way and discovered that it is composed of a huge number of faint stars. the present picture of our galaxy."[21] The Andalusian astronomer Ibn Bajjah ("Avempace". and that Sketch of the Whirlpool Galaxy by Lord Rosse in 1845 . which is visible from Yemen. d. though not from Isfahan. made the first attempt at observing and measuring the Milky Way's parallax. it was not seen by Europeans until Magellan's voyage in the 16th century. in his An original theory or new hypothesis of the Universe.[28] 20 Distinction from other nebulae In the 10th century. Kapteyn in 1920 arrived at the picture of a center. He produced a diagram of the shape of the galaxy with the solar system close to the center.[26] [27] Using a refined The shape of the Milky Way as deduced from star counts by William Herschel in 1785. but after Robert Julius Trumpler quantified this effect in 1930 by studying open clusters. akin to the solar system but on a much larger scale. Al-Sufi published his findings in his Book of Fixed Stars in 964.[25] Both analyses failed to take into account the absorption of light by interstellar dust present in the galactic plane. Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (known in the West as Azophi). made the earliest recorded observation of the Andromeda Galaxy.

which holds that spiral nebulae are actually independent galaxies. Charles Messier compiled a catalog containing the 109 brightest nebulae (celestial objects with a nebulous appearance).[33] In 1912.[25] introduced the term "island universe" for these distant nebulae.000 parsecs. as well as the significant Doppler shift. and were unlikely to be a part of the galaxy. [32] 21 In 1755 Immanuel Kant Toward the end of the 18th century.[37] The matter was conclusively settled in the early 1920s. Curtis noticed that these novae were. thus allowing him to estimate the distance to the nebulae: they were far too distant to be part of the Milky Way. Wilson telescope. Thus they were not gravitationally bound to the Milky Way. Heber Curtis had observed a nova S Andromedae within the "Great Andromeda Nebula" (Messier object M31). the Hubble sequence. Searching the photographic record. To support his claim that the Great Andromeda Nebula was an external galaxy. In 1922. He became a proponent of the so-called "island universes" hypothesis.[40] Modern research . spiral nebulae.[39] In 1936 Hubble produced a classification system for galaxies that is used to this day. Vesto Slipher made spectrographic studies of the brightest spiral nebulae to determine if they were made from chemicals that would be expected in a planetary system. on average.[34] [35] In 1917. As a result he was able to come up with a distance estimate of 150. He also managed to make out individual point sources in some of these nebulae. lending credence to Kant's earlier conjecture.000 nebulae assembled by William Herschel. later determination which supported the theory that the identified as the Andromeda Galaxy Andromeda Nebula is indeed a distant extra-galactic object.[36] In 1920 the so-called Great Debate took place between Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis. 10 magnitudes fainter than those that occurred within our galaxy.[38] Using the new 100 inch Mt. However. concerning the nature of the Milky Way.Galaxy some of the nebulae visible in the night sky might be separate Milky Ways. Slipher discovered that the spiral nebulae had high red shifts. and the dimensions of the Universe. Edwin Hubble was able to resolve the outer parts of some spiral nebulae as collections of individual stars and identified some Cepheid variables. he found 11 more novae. later followed by a larger catalog of 5. Lord Rosse constructed a new telescope and was able to distinguish between elliptical and spiral nebulae. Curtis noted the appearance of dark lanes resembling the dust clouds in the Milky Way. astronomer Ernst Öpik gave a distance Photograph of the "Great Andromeda Nebula" from 1899. indicating that they were moving away at rate higher than the Milky Way's escape velocity.[25] In 1845.

[49] The largest galaxies are giant ellipticals. ranging from E0.[46] Improved technology in detecting the spectra invisible to humans (radio telescopes. Among other things. They can grow to enormous sizes (compared to spiral galaxies. since it is not affected by dust absorption and its Doppler shift can be used to map the motion of the gas in the Galaxy. provided evidence that there are about 125 billion (1. the Hubble Space Telescope yielded improved observations. These galaxies have an ellipsoidal profile. The distance is from the galactic core. Instead they are dominated by generally older. up to E7. resulting in a collision and merger.[43] [44] Beginning in the 1990s. for example). and x-ray telescopes) allow detection of other galaxies that are not detected by Hubble.25×1011) galaxies in the universe. galaxy surveys in the zone of avoidance (the region of the sky blocked by the Milky Way) have revealed a number of new galaxies. The Hubble classification system rates elliptical galaxies on the basis of their ellipticity. and SB is a barred-spiral galaxy. Types and morphology Galaxies come in three main types: ellipticals. it may miss certain important characteristics of galaxies such as star formation rate (in starburst galaxies) and activity in the core (in active galaxies). A slightly more extensive description of galaxy types based on their appearance is given by the Hubble sequence. hydrogen gas could also be traced in other galaxies. being nearly spherical.[6] Ellipticals Types of galaxies according to the Hubble classification scheme. This galaxy rotation problem is thought to be explained by the presence of large quantities of unseen dark matter. giving them an elliptical appearance regardless of the viewing angle. In the 1970s it was discovered in Vera Rubin's study of the rotation speed of gas in galaxies that the total visible mass (from the stars and gas) does not properly account for the speed of the rotating gas. Many elliptical galaxies are believed to form due to the interaction of galaxies. spirals. an extremely long exposure of a relatively empty part of the sky. The radiation allowed for much improved study of the Milky Way Galaxy. and irregulars. infrared cameras. more evolved stars that are orbiting the common center of gravity in random directions.Galaxy 22 In 1944 Hendrik van de Hulst predicted microwave radiation at a wavelength of 21 cm resulting from interstellar atomic hydrogen gas.[45] The Hubble Deep Field. and giant elliptical galaxies are often found near the core of large galaxy clusters. Particularly. These observations led to the postulation of a rotating bar structure in the center of the Galaxy. Their appearance shows little structure and they typically have relatively little interstellar matter. it established that the missing dark matter in our galaxy cannot solely consist of inherently faint and small stars. Consequently these galaxies also have a low portion of open clusters and a reduced rate of new star formation. Since the Hubble sequence is entirely based upon visual morphological type.[50] Starburst galaxies are .[42] With improved radio telescopes. which is highly elongated.[41] this radiation was observed in 1951. An E indicates a type of [48] elliptical galaxy.[47] Rotation curve of a typical spiral galaxy: predicted (A) and observed (B). an S is a spiral. In this sense they have some similarity to the much smaller globular clusters.

Like the stars.Galaxy the result of such a galactic collision that can result in the formation of an elliptical galaxy. possibly as a result of gas being channeled into the core [54] along the arms. the space velocity of each stellar system is modified by the gravitational force of the higher density. Many barred spiral galaxies are active. (The velocity returns to normal after the stars depart on the other side of the arm. or c) that indicates the degree of tightness of the spiral arms and the size of the central bulge. The spiral arms are thought to be areas of high density matter. The arms are visible because the high density facilitates star formation. A majority of spiral galaxies have a linear. In the Hubble classification scheme. an example of a barred spiral galaxy. an example of an unbarred spiral galaxy. Our own galaxy is a large disk-shaped barred-spiral galaxy[55] about 30 kiloparsecs in diameter and a kiloparsec in thickness. the spiral arms rotate around the center. spiral galaxies are listed as type S. b or c) that indicates the form of the spiral arms (in the same manner as the categorization of normal spiral galaxies). density wave radiating outward from the core. Extending outward from the bulge are relatively bright arms.[52] In the Hubble classification scheme. followed by a lower-case letter (a. an Sc galaxy has open. poorly defined arms and possesses a relatively large core region. It contains about two hundred billion (2×1011)[56] stars and has a total mass of about six hundred billion (6×1011) times the mass of the Sun. along with a central bulge of generally older stars. . b. a pattern that can be theoretically shown to result from a disturbance in a uniformly rotating mass of stars. and therefore they harbor many bright and young stars. but they do so with constant angular velocity. An Sa galaxy has tightly wound. or else due to a tidal interaction with [53] another galaxy. followed by a letter (a.[57] The Whirlpool Galaxy (on left). or "density waves". the spiral arms do have the shape of approximate logarithmic spirals. these are designated by an SB. bar-shaped band of stars that extends outward to either side of the core. At the other extreme. Bars are thought to be temporary structures that can occur as a result of a NGC 1300. then merges into the spiral arm structure. As stars move through an arm.) This effect is akin to a "wave" of slowdowns moving along a highway full of moving cars.[49] 23 Spirals Spiral galaxies consist of a rotating disk of stars and interstellar medium. well-defined arms and a small core region.[51] In spiral galaxies.

These galaxies are relatively small when compared with other galactic formations. These are categorized as Hubble type S0. there are a number of galaxies that can not be readily classified into an elliptical or spiral morphology. regardless of whether they have thousands or millions of stars.) Hoag's Object. and may have been disrupted. an example of a ring galaxy. spiral. Irr-II galaxies do not possess any structure that resembles a Hubble classification. or irregular.[58] Such an event may have affected the Andromeda Galaxy. Credit: NASA/ESA. being about one hundredth the size of the Milky Way. In addition to the classifications mentioned above.[61] Nearby examples of (dwarf) irregular galaxies include the Magellanic Clouds. as it displays a multi-ring-like structure when viewed in infrared radiation. A study of 27 Milky Way neighbors found that dwarf galaxies were all approximately 10 million solar masses. containing only a few billion stars. Many dwarf galaxies may orbit a single larger galaxy. and that the minimum size may indicate a form of warm dark matter incapable of gravitational coalescence on a smaller scale. Since small dwarf ellipticals bear little resemblance to large ellipticals.[62] NGC 5866. These are categorized as irregular galaxies. they are often called dwarf spheroidal galaxies instead. Ultra-compact dwarf galaxies have recently been discovered that are only 100 parsecs across. and they possess ill-defined spiral arms with an elliptical halo of stars. most galaxies in the universe appear to be dwarf galaxies. Dwarfs Despite the prominence of large elliptical and spiral galaxies. an example of a lenticular galaxy. An Irr-I galaxy has some structure but does not align cleanly with the Hubble classification scheme.[64] . the Milky Way has at least a dozen such satellites.[60] (Barred lenticular galaxies receive Hubble classification SB0. An example of this is the ring galaxy. This has led to the suggestion that galaxies are largely formed by dark matter. which possesses a ring-like structure of stars and interstellar medium surrounding a bare core.[63] Dwarf galaxies may also be classified as elliptical. with an estimated 300–500 yet to be discovered.Galaxy 24 Other morphologies Peculiar galaxies are galactic formations that develop unusual properties due to tidal interactions with other galaxies. A ring galaxy is thought to occur when a smaller galaxy passes through the core of a spiral galaxy.[59] A lenticular galaxy is an intermediate form that has properties of both elliptical and spiral galaxies.

The stars within these interacting galaxies will typically pass straight through without colliding. A collision can severely distort the shape of one or both galaxies. the gas and dust within the two forms will interact. In this case the relative momentum of the two galaxies is insufficient to allow the galaxies to pass through each other. Near misses between galaxies result in warping distortions due to tidal interactions. and may cause some exchange of gas and dust. the result is known as cannibalism. while the smaller galaxy is torn apart.[65] [66] . and play an important role in their evolution.[65] [66] Collisions occur when two galaxies pass directly through each other and have sufficient relative momentum not to merge. The Milky Way galaxy is currently in the process of cannibalizing the Sagittarius Dwarf Elliptical Galaxy and the Canis Major Dwarf Galaxy. Instead. however.Galaxy 25 Unusual dynamics and activities Interacting The average separation between galaxies within a cluster is a little over an order of magnitude larger than their diameter. In this case the larger galaxy will remain relatively undisturbed by the merger. However. galaxies. they gradually merge together to form a single. as compared to the original eventual merger. larger galaxy. This can trigger bursts of star formation as the interstellar medium becomes disrupted and compressed. Mergers can result in significant changes The Antennae Galaxies are undergoing a collision that will result in their to morphology. forming bars. Hence interactions between these galaxies are relatively frequent.[65] [66] At the extreme of interactions are galactic mergers. rings or tail-like structures. In the case where one of the galaxies is much more massive.

a relatively brief period in the history of a galaxy. Irregular galaxies often exhibit spaced knots of starburst activity. at present. they would consume their reserve of gas in a time frame lower than the lifespan of the galaxy. resulting in expanding remnants that interact powerfully with the surrounding gas. The standard model for an active galactic nucleus is based upon an accretion disc that forms around a supermassive black hole (SMBH) at the core region. known as a starburst.[72] In about 10% of these objects. has experienced a 10-fold increase in star formation rate as compared to a "normal" galaxy. Starburst galaxies were more common during the early history of the universe. a diametrically opposed pair of energetic jets ejects particles from the core at velocities close to the speed of light.[68] Starbursts are often associated with merging or interacting galaxies.[71] [67] M82. still contribute an estimated 15% to the total star production rate. the archetype starburst galaxy. Active nucleus A portion of the galaxies we can observe are classified as active. Some galaxies have been observed to form stars at an exceptional rate.[69] Starburst galaxies are characterized by dusty concentrations of gas and the appearance of newly formed stars. Should they continue to do so. These outbursts trigger a chain reaction of star building that spreads throughout the gaseous region.[68] and. The radiation from an active galactic nucleus results from the gravitational energy of matter as it falls toward the black hole from the disc. Hence starburst activity usually lasts for only about ten million years. Only when the available gas is nearly consumed or dispersed does the starburst activity come to an end. That is.Galaxy 26 Starburst Stars are created within galaxies from a reserve of cold gas that forms into giant molecular clouds. including massive stars that ionize the surrounding clouds to create H II regions. The mechanism for producing these jets is still not well understood. a significant portion of the total energy output from the galaxy is emitted by a source other than the stars. which experienced a close encounter with the larger M81.[70] These massive stars produce supernova explosions.[73] . however. The prototype example of such a starburst-forming interaction is M82. dust and interstellar medium.

Blazars are believed to be an active galaxy with a relativistic jet that is pointed in the direction of the Earth. Nearly all the hydrogen was neutral (non-ionized) and readily absorbed light.[76] The detailed process by which such early galaxy formation occurred is a major open question in astronomy. About 300. A unified model of these types of active galaxies explains their differences based on the viewing angle of the observer. when it was discovered that the galaxy IOK-1 has an unusually high redshift of 6.[79] Modern theories must be modified to account for the probable presence of large dark matter halos.[72] [74] [75] A jet of particles is being emitted from the core of the elliptical radio galaxy M87. The existence of such early protogalaxies suggests that they must have grown in the so-called "Dark Ages". atoms of hydrogen and helium began to form. in an event called recombination. small structures such as globular clusters form first. Evidence for the early appearance of galaxies was found in 2006.000 years after this event.96. It was from density fluctuations (or anisotropic irregularities) in this primordial matter that larger structures began to appear. the first halo stars (called Population III stars) appeared within them. These were composed almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Theories could be divided into two categories: top-down and bottom-up. Some theories in this field have now become widely accepted. these huge stars would have quickly consumed their supply of fuel and became supernovae. and no stars had yet formed. If so.[76] These primordial structures would eventually become the galaxies we see today.[77] While some scientists have claimed other objects (such as Abell 1835 IR1916) have higher redshifts (and therefore are seen in an earlier stage of the Universe's evolution). and then a number of such bodies accrete to form a larger galaxy. The emission from LINER-type galaxies is dominated by weakly ionized elements. releasing heavy elements into the .[73] Possibly related to active galactic nuclei (as well as starburst regions) are low-ionization nuclear emission-line regions (LINERs). depending on the luminosity.Galaxy 27 Active galaxies that emit high-energy radiation in the form of x-rays are classified as Seyfert galaxies or quasars. In top-down theories (such as the Eggen–Lynden-Bell–Sandage [ELS] model). and may have been massive. corresponding to just 750 million years after the Big Bang and making it the most distant and primordial galaxy yet seen.[78] In bottom-up theories (such as the Searle-Zinn [SZ] model).[74] Approximately one-third of nearby galaxies are classified as containing LINER nuclei. masses of baryonic matter started to condense within cold dark matter halos. IOK-1's age and composition have been more reliably established. Formation and evolution The study of galactic formation and evolution attempts to answer questions regarding how galaxies formed and their evolutionary path over the history of the universe. protogalaxies form in a large-scale simultaneous collapse lasting about one hundred million years. Formation Current cosmological models of the early Universe are based on the Big Bang theory. A radio galaxy emits radio frequencies from relativistic jets. Once protogalaxies began to form and contract. but it is still an active area in astrophysics. As a result this period has been called the "Dark Ages". As a result.

galaxies will be .[91] As an example of such an interaction. key structures begin to appear. evidence of past collisions of the Milky Way with smaller dwarf galaxies is increasing. the great majority of stellar systems in colliding galaxies will be unaffected. the Milky Way galaxy and the nearby Andromeda Galaxy are moving toward each other at about 130 km/s. longest-lived stars in our astrosphere. Mergers of galaxies were common during the early epoch. and—depending upon the lateral movements—the two may collide in about five to six billion years.[95] The supply of star-forming material is finite. [82] [83] The evolution of galaxies can be significantly affected by interactions and collisions. as the smallest.[92] Such large-scale interactions are rare. galaxies undergo a major burst of star formation. gravitational stripping of the interstellar gas and dust that makes up the spiral arms produces a long train of stars known as tidal tails.[93] Future trends At present. once stars have converted the available supply of hydrogen into heavier elements. only produce new generations of stars as long as they have dense molecular clouds of interstellar hydrogen in their spiral arms. new star formation will come to an end. most star formation occurs in smaller galaxies where cool gas is not so depleted.[84] During this early epoch. and the majority of galaxies were peculiar in morphology. begin to fade. and then the "stellar age" will wind down after about ten trillion to one hundred trillion years (1013–1014 years). Most bright galaxies have remained fundamentally unchanged for the last few billion years. the central supermassive black hole.[87] This matter is mostly hydrogen and helium. Although the Milky Way has never collided with a galaxy as large as Andromeda before.[86] A galaxy will continue to absorb infalling material from high velocity clouds and dwarf galaxies throughout its life. the accumulated matter settles into a galactic disc. and so form no new stars. However.[94] Elliptical galaxies are already largely devoid of this gas. and the net rate of star formation probably also peaked approximately ten billion years ago. mergers of two systems of equal size become less common.[81] 28 Evolution Within a billion years of a galaxy's formation. The creation of a supermassive black hole appears to play a key role in actively regulating the growth of galaxies by limiting the total amount of additional matter added. At the end of the stellar age. Examples of these formations can be seen in NGC 4676[90] or the Antennae Galaxies.[85] During the following two billion years. As time passes.[88] I Zwicky 18 (lower left) resembles a newly formed galaxy. The cycle of stellar birth and death slowly increases the abundance of heavy elements. Globular clusters. tiny red dwarfs. eventually allowing the formation of planets.[89] Spiral galaxies.[96] The current era of star formation is expected to continue for up to one hundred billion years. creating expanding bubbles of space through which light could readily travel. and a galactic bulge of metal-poor Population II stars form.[89] Given the distances between the stars.[80] This first generation of stars re-ionized the surrounding neutral hydrogen. like the Milky Way.Galaxy interstellar medium.

as their gas is not being stripped by other. These associations formed early in the universe. Eventually.Galaxy composed of compact objects: brown dwarfs. over time.[99] On the largest scale. which are found in clusters. Nearby groups later merged to form larger-scale clusters. each member galaxy must have a sufficiently low velocity to prevent it from escaping (see Virial theorem).[96] [97] 29 Larger-scale structures Deep sky surveys show that galaxies are often found in relatively close association with other galaxies. all stars will either fall into central supermassive black holes or be flung into intergalactic space as a result of collisions. galaxies are arranged into sheets and filaments surrounding vast empty voids. the universe is continually expanding. groups and sometimes individually. A group of galaxies is the most common type of galactic cluster. Superclusters contain tens of thousands of galaxies. as clumps of dark matter pulled their respective galaxies together.[102] [103] To remain gravitationally bound to such a group. however. nearby galaxies. satellite galaxies.[106] Above this scale. with 10–30% consisting of this heated gas and the remaining few percent of the matter in the form of galaxies. Associations of galaxies can overcome this expansion on a local scale through their mutual gravitational attraction. neutron stars. as a result of gravitational relaxation.[101] Most galaxies in the universe are gravitationally bound to a number of other galaxies. which. If there is insufficient kinetic energy. white dwarfs that are cooling or cold ("black dwarfs").[104] Larger structures containing many thousands of galaxies packed into an area a few megaparsecs across are called clusters. these isolated formations may have interacted and even merged with other galaxies in the past. reaching 30–100 megakelvins. At the supercluster scale. Only about 5% of the galaxies surveyed have been found to be truly isolated. This on-going merger process (as well as an influx of infalling gas) heats the inter-galactic gas within a cluster to very high temperatures. resulting in an average increase in the separation between individual galaxies (see Hubble's law). and may still be orbited by smaller. however. the group may evolve into a smaller number of galaxies through mergers. These form a fractal-like hierarchy of clustered structures. many of the other member galaxies are dwarf companions of these two .[107] The Milky Way galaxy is a member of an association named the Local Group. Solitary galaxies that have not significantly interacted with another galaxy of comparable mass during the past billion years are relatively scarce. tidally destroys its satellite galaxies and adds their mass to its own. with the smallest such associations being termed groups. the universe appears to be isotropic and homogeneous. Isolated galaxies[98] can produce stars at a higher rate than normal. and these formations contain a majority of the galaxies (as well as most of the baryonic mass) in the universe. and black holes.[105] Seyfert's Sextet is an example of a compact galaxy group. known as the brightest cluster galaxy. a relatively small group of galaxies that has a diameter of approximately one megaparsec. The Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy are the two brightest galaxies within the group.[100] About 70–80% of the mass in a cluster is in the form of dark matter. Clusters of galaxies are often dominated by a single giant elliptical galaxy.

[113] The distribution of hot gas in galactic clusters can be mapped by X-rays.[112] Ultraviolet and X-ray telescopes can observe highly energetic galactic phenomena.)[111] Large radio interferometers have been used to map the active jets emitted from active nuclei.). The Universe and Beyond (4th ed. so the observation of the stars that form galaxies has been a major component of optical astronomy. was made using radio frequencies.[109] 30 Multi-wavelength observation After galaxies external to the Milky Way were found to exist. The first non-visual study of galaxies. Firefly Books Ltd. red-shifted galaxies that were formed much earlier in the history of the universe. ISBN 1552979016. which can be used to observe the interior regions of giant molecular clouds and galactic cores in great detail. It is more transparent to far-infrared. extended structure of groups and clusters of galaxies centered around the Virgo Cluster. The peak radiation of most stars lies here. The dust present in the interstellar medium is opaque to visual light. a large. It is also a favorable portion of the spectrum for observing ionized H II regions. The atmosphere is nearly transparent to radio between 5 MHz and 30 GHz. and large-scale structure Galaxy formation and evolution Dark galaxy Bibliography • Dickinson. • James Binney. SEDS Messier pages [115] • An Atlas of The Universe [116] • Galaxies — Information and amateur observations [117] • The Oldest Galaxy Yet Found [118] • Galaxies — discussed on BBC Radio 4's "In Our Time" programme [119] . potentially. Michael Merrifield (1998). ISBN 0691004021. so high-altitude or space-based telescopes are used for infrared astronomy. Radio telescopes can also be used to observe neutral hydrogen (via 21 centimetre radiation). Water vapor and carbon dioxide absorb a number of useful portions of the infrared spectrum. (The ionosphere blocks signals below this range. OCLC 39108765.[108] The Local Group itself is a part of a cloud-like structure within the Virgo Supercluster. External links • Galaxies. Princeton University Press. initial observations were made mostly using visible light. Galactic Astronomy.Galaxy galaxies. clusters of galaxies. particularly active galaxies. An ultraviolet flare was observed when a star in a distant galaxy was torn apart from the tidal forces of a black hole. Terence (2004). The existence of super-massive black holes at the cores of galaxies was confirmed through X-ray astronomy.[110] Infrared is also used to observe distant. OCLC 55596414. the non-ionized matter in the early universe that later collapsed to form galaxies. and for examining the distribution of dusty arms. including.[114] See also • • • • • • • • Galactic orientation List of galaxies List of nearest galaxies Luminous infrared galaxy Supermassive black hole Timeline of knowledge about galaxies..

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Trevor (2005-02-25). [92] Wong. cam. Retrieved 2007-01-02.1111/j. "Hubble's New Camera Delivers Breathtaking Views of the Universe" (http:/ / hubblesite. . [94] Kennicutt Jr.. . (2002-04-30). Stephane (2007). The Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific 112 (770): 529–536. Christopher J. Scientific American 296 (2): 35–41. Retrieved 2006-08-10. . G. Neta A. New Scientist. edu/ pub/ envision/ v15. . . org/ abs/ astro-ph/ 0608531). edu/ Outreach/ Edu/ Regions/ irregions. harvard. San Francisco. . uk/ radio4/ history/ inourtime/ inourtime_20060629.. [96] Adams.. "Updated Information on the Local Group" (http:/ / adsabs. .1086/309314. doi:10. . C. 26. Mid & Far Infrared" (http:/ / www. html). P. . "An Introduction to X-ray Astronomy" (http:/ / www-xray. gov/ html/ astro-ph/ 9908269/ homepage. [112] "Giant Radio Telescope Imaging Could Make Dark Matter Visible" (http:/ / www. "The Observational Mass Function of Loose Galaxy Groups" (http:/ / adsabs. [105] Dubinski. [114] Dunn. Astronomical Society of the Pacific. html [116] http:/ / www. [100] "Groups & Clusters of Galaxies" (http:/ / chandra. Institute of Astronomy X-Ray Group. G.2007. au/ people/ mdahlem/ sci/ SCGs. Heavens. utoronto. doi:10. . bham. Ben. 8266K). M. ca/ bin/ 000414b. . Astrophysical Journal 257: 389–422. Sironi. 431G). Retrieved 2007-01-16. Raul. Giuricin. asp). (2000). . . Alan F. "Galaxy Systems: Groups" (http:/ / www. (1986). "Galactic loners produce more stars" (http:/ / www. "When Galaxy Clusters Collide" (http:/ / www. 631B). NASA Chandra. 257. 389T). [101] Ricker.aa. ast. . . [98] The term "field galaxy" is sometimes used to mean an isolated galaxy. edu/ xray_sources/ galaxy_clusters. Retrieved 2007-01-02. nature. Puerto de la Cruz. umich. John (1998). Fred. [99] McKee. . news. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 378 (4): 1550–1564. pp. 2/ ricker. edu/ abs/ 1998bdep. harvard. gov/ headlines/ y2002/ 08feb_gravlens. doi:10. Retrieved 2007-01-16. Greg (2006-07-13). com/ [117] http:/ / www. R. [107] Mandolesi. . "The star formation histories of galaxies in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey" (http:/ / arxiv. edu/ abs/ 1998astro. ISBN 1-886733-84-8. com/ releases/ 2006/ 12/ 061214135537.. . . Calzolari. The Astrophysical Journal 540 (1): 45–56. harvard. 1040V). ScienceDaily. sr. harvard.1086/174790. htm).. . Star Formation in Early Type Galaxies (http:/ / adsabs. "Astrophysicist maps out our own galaxy's end" (http:/ / www. . edu/ abs/ 2000ApJ. Retrieved 2007-01-15. Retrieved 2007-01-15.1086/159999. bbc. University of Michigan. Retrieved 2008-06-04. harvard. . (February 2007). B. Galaxy Collisions 321. edu/ ~urecord/ 9697/ Jan21_97/ artcl17. University of Toronto. ac. ipac.1146/annurev.1365-2966. (1982). [115] http:/ / www.x. "The Origin of the Brightest Cluster Galaxies" (http:/ / www. G. uk/ research/ groups. nasa. 2006-12-14. atnf. "The Stellar Metallicity — Planet Connection" (http:/ / adsabs. Jimenez. "The Local Supercluster" (http:/ / adsabs. S. harvard. [106] Bahcall. Janet (2000-04-14). sdsc. "Optical and radio survey of Southern Compact Groups of galaxies" (http:/ / www. [93] Panter. [90] Ford. harvard. NASA. . . Hubble News Desk. . Annual review of astronomy and astrophysics 26: 631–686. doi:10. Curtis (1999). Tenerife..26. doi:10. . Astrophysical Journal 435 (1): 22–36. University of Birmingham Astrophysics and Space Research Group. et al.11909. Delpino. lanl. . . (1998). NASA. E. . OCLC 41302839. N. Robert. 540. caltech.. . html). ns?id=dn7478). 45G). html). [97] Pobojewski. com/ nature/ journal/ v319/ n6056/ abs/ 319751a0. edu/ abs/ 1988ARA& A. com/ article. "Large-scale structure in the universe indicated by galaxy clusters" (http:/ / adsabs. "Past and future star formation in disk galaxies" (http:/ / adsabs. Cortiglioni. Tamblyn. 431. html).1038/319751a0. astrosociety. edu/ abs/ 2000astro. csiro. ph. doi:10. doi:10. University of Birmingham Astrophysics and Space Research Group. "Large-scale homogeneity of the Universe measured by the microwave background" (http:/ / www. [108] van den Bergh. htm). Letters to Nature 319: 751–753. . R. F. Paul. [110] "Near. [102] Dahlem. com/ galaxies [118] http:/ / science. htm [119] http:/ / www. . ac. 2006-12-05. . Retrieved 2007-01-13. San Diego Supercomputer Center. 435. Retrieved 2007-05-08. . gov/ education/ educ/ radio/ tran-rec/ exerc/ iono. Retrieved 2007-01-15. html). shtml 34 .090188. "Physics offers glimpse into the dark side of the universe" (http:/ / www. seds. P. "Galaxy Collisions" (http:/ / xxx. org/ pubs/ mercury/ 0001/ cosmic. C. html). "The Universe's Invisible Hand". cita.1086/305901. ph. Maggie (2005-06-07). co. Congdon. Calif. utoronto. [95] Knapp. (1988). Retrieved 2007-01-02. nightskyinfo. . ca/ ~dubinski/ bcg/ ). Retrieved 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2007-01-02.Galaxy [88] Gonzalez. Retrieved 2008-08-27.003215. . edu/ abs/ 1982ApJ. html). uk/ xray_introduction/ ). R. nasa. gov/ mission_pages/ galex/ galex-20061205.1086/316548. 22K). . newscientist. [91] Struck. "The Great Cosmic Battle" (http:/ / www. html).. harvard. Michael (2006-11-24). sciencedaily. edu/ abs/ 1994ApJ. H. . nasa. gsfc. [113] "NASA Telescope Sees Black Hole Munch on a Star" (http:/ / www. [109] Tully. (1999). atlasoftheuniverse. Astrophysical Journal 502 (2): 141–149. . [104] Girardi. . Sidney (2000). doi:10. (1994).: Astronomical Society of the Pacific. html). G. . htm). [111] "The Effects of Earth's Upper Atmosphere on Radio Signals" (http:/ / radiojove. Spain. IPAC/NASA. Retrieved 2007-01-15. Sally (1997-01-21). . although the same term is also used to describe galaxies that do not belong to a cluster but may be a member of a group of galaxies. conf. [89] Conselice. Laughlin. [103] Ponman.. Charlot. org/ newscenter/ archive/ releases/ 2002/ 11/ image/ d). org/ messier/ galaxy.

Galaxy [120] http:/ / www. luminous ball of plasma held together by gravity. their gravitational interaction can have a significant impact on their evolution. Other characteristics of a star are determined by its evolutionary history. when they are not outshone by the Sun.[3] Binary and multi-star systems consist of two or more stars that are gravitationally bound. A star begins as a collapsing cloud of material composed primarily of hydrogen. and the brightest stars gained proper names. . Once the hydrogen fuel at the core is exhausted. recycling a portion of the matter into the interstellar environment. NASA/ESA image. age. Almost all naturally occurring elements heavier than helium were created by stars. those stars having at least 0. the most prominent stars on the celestial sphere were grouped together into constellations and asterisms. rotation. org/ facts/ sand-galaxies. asp 35 Star A star is a massive. galaxyzoo. either via stellar nucleosynthesis during their lifetimes or by supernova nucleosynthesis when stars explode. physics. The star's internal pressure prevents it from collapsing further under its own gravity.[4] Stars can form part of a much larger gravitationally bound structure.4 times the mass of the Sun[2] expand to become a red giant. Other stars are visible in the night sky. movement and temperature.[1] The remainder of the star's interior carries energy away from the core through a combination of radiative and convective processes. allows the age and evolutionary state of a star to be determined. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun. which provide standardized star designations. some of the hydrogen is steadily converted into helium through the process of nuclear fusion. The star then evolves into a degenerate form. Once the stellar core is sufficiently dense. in some cases fusing heavier elements at the core or in shells around the core. luminosity and motion through space. along with helium and trace amounts of heavier elements. and generally move around each other in stable orbits. Historically. including diameter. When two such stars have a relatively close orbit. which is the source of most of the energy on Earth. Extensive catalogues of stars have been assembled by astronomers. A star-forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud. a star shines due to thermonuclear fusion of hydrogen in its core releasing energy that traverses the star's interior and then radiates into outer space. where it will form a new generation of stars with a higher proportion of heavy elements. such as a cluster or a galaxy. The total mass of a star is the principal determinant in its evolution and eventual fate. org [121] http:/ / www. chemical composition and many other properties of a star by observing its spectrum. For at least a portion of its life. known as a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram (H–R diagram). Astronomers can determine the mass. A plot of the temperature of many stars against their luminosities.

who discovered a number of stars. the lion.[11] Hipparchus is known for the discovery of the first recorded nova (new star). in orbit around them.[26] By the following century. now known as the SN 185. is a solar calendar based on the angle of the Earth's rotational axis relative to its local star. stars have been important to civilizations throughout the world. The oldest accurately dated star chart appeared in ancient Egyptian astronomy in 1534 BC. Many ancient astronomers believed that stars were permanently affixed to a heavenly sphere. the Sun. [5] People have seen patterns in the stars since ancient times.[12] Many of the constellations and star names in use today derive from Greek astronomy.[13] In 185 AD. and they invented numerous astronomical instruments that could compute the positions of the stars.[7] The Gregorian calendar.[23] an idea that had been suggested earlier by the ancient Greek philosophers. citing his observation of the conjunction of Jupiter and Mars on 500 AH (1106/1107 AD) as evidence.[19] Among these.[5] The motion of the Sun against the background stars (and the horizon) was used to create calendars. possibly even Earth-like. Isaac Newton suggested that the stars were equally distributed in every direction.[24] and by medieval Islamic cosmologists[25] such as Fakhr al-Din al-Razi. star clusters (including the Omicron Velorum and Brocchi's Clusters) and galaxies (including the Andromeda Galaxy). Chinese astronomers were aware that new stars could appear.[16] [17] [18] Medieval Islamic astronomers gave Arabic names to many stars that are still used today. was also observed by Chinese and Islamic astronomers. They have been part of religious practices and used for celestial navigation and orientation. during the Kassite Period (ca. suggesting that the heavens were not immutable.[22] Early European astronomers such as Tycho Brahe identified new stars in the night sky (later termed novae). Democritus and Epicurus. which gave birth to the Crab Nebula.[10] The star catalog of Hipparchus (2nd century BC) included 1020 stars and was used to assemble Ptolemy's star catalogue. which could be used to regulate agricultural practices. is [6] by Johannes Hevelius. the Persian polymath scholar Abu Rayhan Biruni described the Milky Way galaxy as a multitude of fragments having the properties of nebulous stars. This 1690 depiction of the constellation of Leo. the idea of the stars as distant suns was reaching a consensus among astronomers. currently used nearly everywhere in the world.[8] The earliest known star catalogues were compiled by the ancient Babylonian astronomers of Mesopotamia in the late 2nd millennium BC. and also gave the latitudes of various stars during a lunar eclipse in 1019. an idea prompted by the .[9] The first star catalogue in Greek astronomy was created by Aristillus in approximately 300 BC. with the help of Timocharis. which was observed in 1006 and written about by the Egyptian astronomer Ali ibn Ridwan and several Chinese astronomers. 1531-1155 BC). and that they were immutable.[20] In the 11th century. They built the first large observatory research institutes.[21] The Andalusian astronomer Ibn Bajjah proposed that the Milky Way was made up of many stars which almost touched one another and appeared to be a continuous image due to the effect of refraction from sublunary material.Star 36 Observation history Historically. In spite of the apparent immutability of the heavens. mainly for the purpose of producing Zij star catalogues. and may have other planets. To explain why these stars exerted no net gravitational pull on the solar system. they were the first to observe and write about a supernova.[14] The brightest stellar event in recorded history was the SN 1006 supernova. the Book of Fixed Stars (964) was written by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi. astronomers grouped stars into constellations and used them to track the motions of the planets and the inferred position of the Sun. By convention. In 1584 Giordano Bruno suggested that the stars were actually other suns.[15] The SN 1054 supernova.

The only exception is a faint image of a large star cluster containing hundreds of thousands of stars located one billion light years away[37] —ten times the distance of the most distant star cluster previously observed. and inferred a hidden companion. Parallax measurements demonstrated the vast separation of the stars in the heavens.[35] In the Local Supercluster it is possible to see star clusters. W.[23] William Herschel was the first astronomer to attempt to determine the distribution of stars in the sky. in the direction of the Milky Way core.Star theologian Richard Bentley. but are also physical companions that form binary star systems. The science of stellar spectroscopy was pioneered by Joseph von Fraunhofer and Angelo Secchi. allowing the masses of stars to be determined from computation of the orbital elements. During the 1780s. and counted the stars observed along each line of sight. In 1865 Secchi began classifying stars into spectral types. In 1913. From this he deduced that the number of stars steadily increased toward one side of the sky. and current telescopes could in principle observe faint individual stars in the Local Cluster—the most distant stars resolved have up to hundred million light years away[36] (see Cepheids).4 light-years) was made in 1838 by Friedrich Bessel using the parallax technique. and hence its temperature. Cannon during the 1900s. he performed a series of gauges in 600 directions. The first direct measurement of the distance to a star (61 Cygni at 11. But some stars have been observed in the M100 galaxy of the Virgo Cluster. demonstrating that they had changed positions from the time of the ancient Greek astronomers Ptolemy and Hipparchus. The spectra of stars were also successfully explained through advances in quantum physics. His son John Herschel repeated this study in the southern hemisphere and found a corresponding increase in the same direction.[33] and especially in the visible part of the Milky Way (as demonstrated by the detailed star catalogues available for our galaxy[34] ). Detailed observations of many binary star systems were collected by astronomers such as William Struve and S. Edward Pickering discovered the first spectroscopic binary in 1899 when he observed the periodic splitting of the spectral lines of the star Mizar in a 104 day period. In 1921 Albert A. Successful models were developed to explain the interiors of stars and stellar evolution. By comparing the spectra of stars such as Sirius to the Sun. they found differences in the strength and number of their absorption lines—the dark lines in a stellar spectra due to the absorption of specific frequencies by the atmosphere.[28] In addition to his other accomplishments. the modern version of the stellar classification scheme was developed by Annie J. The photograph became a valuable astronomical tool. Burnham. the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram was developed. Friedrich Bessel observed changes in the proper motion of the star Sirius. about 100 million light years from the Earth.[31] Important conceptual work on the physical basis of stars occurred during the first decades of the twentieth century. neither individual stars nor clusters of stars have been observed. could be determined by comparing the visual magnitude against the photographic magnitude.[30] The twentieth century saw increasingly rapid advances in the scientific study of stars. propelling the astrophysical study of stars.[32] With the exception of supernovae. This allowed the chemical composition of the stellar atmosphere to be determined.[27] The Italian astronomer Geminiano Montanari recorded observing variations in luminosity of the star Algol in 1667.[29] However. individual stars have primarily been observed in our Local Group of galaxies. In 1834. Michelson made the first measurements of a stellar diameter using an interferometer on the Hooker telescope. The first solution to the problem of deriving an orbit of binary stars from telescope observations was made by Felix Savary in 1827. Karl Schwarzschild discovered that the color of a star. The development of the photoelectric photometer allowed very precise measurements of magnitude at multiple wavelength intervals. Edmond Halley published the first measurements of the proper motion of a pair of nearby "fixed" stars. Observation of double stars gained increasing importance during the 19th century. outside the Local Supercluster of galaxies. William Herschel is also noted for his discovery that some stars do not merely lie along the same line of sight. 37 . However.

but neither planet was known in Antiquity because of their low brightness.. are often expressed in terms of the astronomical unit (AU)—approximately the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun (150 million km or 93 million miles). Mars. whereby this numbering system came to be called Flamsteed designation or Flamsteed numbering.[39] (Uranus and Neptune were also Greek and Roman gods. Circa 1600. the only internationally recognized authority for naming celestial bodies is the International Astronomical Union (IAU).Star 38 Designations The concept of the constellation was known to exist during the Babylonian period. was accused of deceptive practice for making it appear that the assigned name was official. with about 23–28% helium and a few percent heavier elements. One example of such a star-forming region is the Orion Nebula. the names of the constellations were used to name the stars in the corresponding regions of the sky. during the 1980s. creating an H II region.g. particularly with Arabic or Latin designations. This ISR practice has been informally labeled a scam and a fraud. They also ionize the hydrogen.[50] [51] Units of measurement Most stellar parameters are expressed in SI units by convention. Ancient sky watchers imagined that prominent arrangements of stars formed patterns. expressing luminosity in ergs per second). These regions are called molecular clouds and consist mostly of hydrogen.[45] One such star naming company is the International Star Registry. Venus.[43] [44] However. As well as certain constellations and the Sun itself. Jupiter and Saturn were taken. they powerfully illuminate those clouds. and these names are neither recognized by the IAU nor used by them. Formation and evolution Stars are formed within extended regions of higher density in the interstellar medium.[40] [41] Under space law. meaning "wanderer"). from which the names of the planets Mercury. stars as a whole have their own myths. Mass. based on the characteristics of the Sun: solar mass: solar luminosity: solar radius:  kg [52] [52]  watts [53] m Large lengths. Twelve of these formations lay along the band of the ecliptic and these became the basis of astrology. and radii are usually given in solar units.[38] Many of the more prominent individual stars were also given names. the IAU has disassociated itself from this commercial practice. which.[46] [47] [48] [49] and the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs issued a violation against ISR for engaging in a deceptive trade practice. and they associated these with particular aspects of nature or their myths. luminosity. such as the radius of a giant star or the semi-major axis of a binary star system." known as planets (Greek πλανήτης (planētēs).[54] As massive stars are formed from molecular clouds.[42] A number of private companies sell names of stars. . Their names were assigned by later astronomers). although the density is still lower than the inside of an earthly vacuum chamber. but CGS units are also used (e. Later a numbering system based on the star's right ascension was invented and added to John Flamsteed's star catalogue in his book "Historia coelestis Britannica" (the 1712 edition). some "stars. represented various important deities. The German astronomer Johann Bayer created a series of star maps and applied Greek letters as designations to the stars in each constellation.[39] To the Ancient Greeks. which the British Library calls an unregulated commercial enterprise.

the amount of mass lost is negligible. while those with greater image mass are Herbig Ae/Be stars. a protostar forms at the core. for example.[61] Every star generates a stellar wind of particles that causes a continual outflow of gas into space. As a globule collapses and the density increases. Early stars of less than 2 solar masses are Artist's conception of the birth of a star within a dense molecular cloud. the gravitational energy is converted into heat and the temperature rises.[57] [58] These jets. the proportion of helium in a star's core will steadily increase. When the protostellar cloud has approximately reached the stable condition of hydrostatic equilibrium. However very massive stars can lose 10−7 to 10−5 solar masses each year. Such stars are said to be on the main sequence and are called dwarf stars. in order to maintain the required rate of nuclear fusion at the core. is estimated to have increased in luminosity by about 40% since it reached the main sequence 4. may help to drive away the surrounding cloud in which the star was formed. in combination with radiation from nearby massive stars.[55] As the cloud collapses. the star will slowly increase in temperature and luminosity[60] –the Sun.[64] .01% of its total mass over its entire lifespan. As a consequence. The period of gravitational contraction lasts for about 10–15 million years. significantly affecting their evolution.Star 39 Protostar formation The formation of a star begins with a gravitational instability inside a molecular cloud. For most stars. individual conglomerations of dense dust and gas form what are known as Bok globules. Once a region reaches a sufficient density of matter to satisfy the criteria for Jeans instability it begins to collapse under its own gravitational force. The Sun loses 10−14 solar masses every year.[56] These pre-main sequence stars are often surrounded by a protoplanetary disk. which may reduce the angular momentum of the collapsing star and result in small patches of nebulosity known as Herbig-Haro objects. often triggered by shock waves from supernovae (massive stellar explosions) or the collision of two galaxies (as in a starburst galaxy).[63] Stars that begin with more than 50 solar masses can lose over half their total mass while they remain on the main sequence. These newly born stars emit jets of gas along their axis of rotation.6 billion years ago.[59] Main sequence Stars spend about 90% of their lifetime fusing hydrogen to produce helium in high-temperature and high-pressure reactions near the core. NASA called T Tauri stars. Starting at zero-age main sequence.[62] or about 0.

since the lifespan of such stars is greater than the current age of the universe (13.25 solar masses. The star then follows an evolutionary path that parallels the original red giant phase. population I stars due to the composition of the molecular clouds from which they formed. when the Sun is a red giant. The metallicity can influence the duration that a star will burn its fuel. hydrogen fusion proceeds in a shell-layer surrounding the core.) "metal".[2] However. in about 5 billion years. population II stars have substantially less metallicity than the younger.[61] [67] In a red giant of up to 2. this is estimated to be about 1010 years.4 solar masses[2] exhaust their supply of hydrogen at their core. (See "Classification" below. their outer layers expand greatly and cool to form a red giant.[68] Eventually the core is compressed enough to start helium fusion. fusion continues in a shell around a hot core of carbon and oxygen. Besides mass. (Over time these clouds become increasingly enriched in heavier elements as older stars die and shed portions of their atmospheres. and the star now gradually shrinks in radius and increases its surface temperature. For example.7 billion years). For the Sun. Large stars consume their fuel very rapidly and are short-lived.Star 40 The duration that a star spends on the main sequence depends primarily on the amount of fuel it has to fuse and the rate at which it fuses that fuel. 250 times its present size. they simply become dimmer and dimmer. its initial mass and its luminosity. but at a higher surface temperature. Small stars (called red dwarfs) consume their fuel very slowly and last tens to hundreds of billions of years. the Sun will lose roughly 30% of its current mass. .e. the core region transitions directly from fusing hydrogen to fusing helium. control the formation of magnetic fields[65] and modify the strength of the stellar wind. As a giant.[66] Older. no red dwarfs are expected to have yet reached this state. i. and the chemical concentration of these elements is called the metallicity. In astronomy all elements An example of a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for a set of stars that includes the Sun heavier than helium are considered a (center). For larger stars.) Post-main sequence As stars of at least 0. it will expand out to a maximum radius of roughly 1 AU (150000000 km). the portion of elements heavier than helium can play a significant role in the evolution of stars.[69] After the star has consumed the helium at the core. At the end of their lives.

forming evolved objects known as Wolf-Rayet stars that have a dense stellar wind which sheds the outer atmosphere. fusion continues until the iron core has grown so large (more than 1. they can continue to fuse elements heavier than helium. consume energy. This process continues. it shrinks to a relatively tiny object (about the size of Earth) that is not massive enough for further compression to take place. The heavier elements in these stars can work their way up to the surface. if they are fused they do not release energy—the process would. The core contracts until the temperature and pressure are sufficient to fuse carbon (see carbon burning process). remnants of a supernova that was first observed around 1050 AD a pulsar or X-ray burster) or. Supernovae are so bright that they may briefly outshine the star's entire home galaxy. Since iron nuclei are more tightly bound than any heavier nuclei.[68] In relatively old. with a more exotic form of degenerate matter. oxygen (see oxygen burning process).[73] In a neutron star the matter is in a state known as neutron-degenerate matter. possibly present in the core. Each shell fuses a different element. on the contrary. the next shell fusing helium.4 solar masses) that it can no longer support its own mass. forming neutrons and neutrinos in a burst of inverse beta decay. Betelgeuse is a red supergiant star approaching the end of its life cycle . Once this fuel is exhausted at the core.[71] The electron-degenerate matter inside a white dwarf is no longer a plasma. supernovae have historically been observed by naked-eye observers as "new stars" where none existed before. since they are more tightly bound than all lighter nuclei. QCD matter. fusion can occur along a series of onion-layer shells within the star. with the outermost shell fusing hydrogen. Within a black hole the matter is in a state that is not currently understood.[72] Most of the matter in the star is blown away by the supernova explosion (forming nebulae such as the Crab Nebula[72] ) and what remains will be a neutron star (which sometimes manifests itself as The Crab Nebula. or electron capture. Near the end of the star's life. very massive stars. in the case of the largest stars (large enough to leave a stellar remnant greater than roughly 4 solar masses). very high mass stars with more than nine solar masses expand to form red supergiants. energy cannot be released by fission.[70] 41 The final stage is reached when the star begins producing iron. White dwarfs will eventually fade into black dwarfs over a very long stretch of time. The shockwave formed by this sudden collapse causes the rest of the star to explode in a supernova. average-size star will now shed its outer layers as a planetary nebula. When they occur within the Milky Way. In larger stars. known as a white dwarf. and silicon (see silicon burning process). Likewise. even though stars are generally referred to as being spheres of plasma.Star Massive stars During their helium-burning phase. with the successive stages being fueled by neon (see neon burning process). a black hole.4 solar masses. and so forth. Collapse An evolved. a large core of inert iron will accumulate in the center of the star. This core will suddenly collapse as its electrons are driven into its protons. If what remains after the outer atmosphere has been shed is less than 1.

or 4. where 80% of the systems are believed to be multiple.[77] Astronomers estimate that there are at least 70 sextillion (7×1022) stars in the observable universe. such multi-star systems are often organized into hierarchical sets of co-orbiting binary stars.[79] Distances like this are typical inside galactic discs. apart from the Sun. and there are more than 100 billion (1011) galaxies in the observable universe. Travelling at the orbital speed of the Space Shuttle (5 miles per second—almost 30. Due to the relatively vast distances between stars outside the galactic nucleus. As 85% of all stars are red dwarfs. These abnormal stars have a higher surface temperature than the other main sequence stars with the same luminosity in the cluster . The outflow from supernovae and the stellar wind of large stars play an important part in shaping the interstellar medium.[74] Larger groups called star clusters also exist. This is particularly true for very massive O and B class stars. up to enormous globular clusters with hundreds of thousands of stars. it would take about 150.[72] 42 Distribution In addition to isolated stars.000 kilometres per hour). The most common multi-star system is a binary star. A typical galaxy contains hundreds of billions of stars. It has been a long-held assumption that the majority of stars occur in gravitationally bound. so that only 25% of red dwarfs are known to have stellar companions. most stars in the Milky Way are likely single from birth.[78] The nearest star to the Earth. collisions can be more common.[82] .[75] A white dwarf star in orbit around Sirius (artist's impression). These range from loose stellar associations with only a few stars. collisions between stars are thought to be rare. NASA image Stars are not spread uniformly across the universe. or much farther apart in galactic halos. including in the vicinity of the solar system.2 years to reach Earth.[81] Such collisions can produce what are known as blue stragglers. Light from Proxima Centauri takes 4. a multi-star system can consist of two or more gravitationally bound stars that orbit around each other. These heavy elements allow the formation of rocky planets. In denser regions such as the core of globular clusters or the galactic center. which is 39. However the portion of single star systems increases for smaller stars. but are normally grouped into galaxies along with interstellar gas and dust. For reasons of orbital stability. multiple-star systems.[80] Stars can be much closer to each other in the centres of galaxies and in globular clusters.Star The blown-off outer layers of dying stars include heavy elements which may be recycled during new star formation.[76] While it is often believed that stars only exist within galaxies. but systems of three or more stars are also found. is Proxima Centauri.9 trillion (1012) kilometres. intergalactic stars have been discovered.2 light-years away.000 years to get there.

all stars except the Sun appear to the human eye as shining points in the night sky that twinkle because of the effect of the Earth's atmosphere. the star with the largest apparent size is R Doradus.[94] Stars vary widely in size Stars range in size from neutron stars. primarily because massive stars have greater pressure on their cores.[92] Diameter Due to their great distance from the Earth. the shorter its lifespan. the star's angular diameter can be computed.Star 43 Characteristics Almost everything about a star is determined by its initial mass. and so interferometer telescopes are required in order to produce images of these objects.[87] as measured by mass. Because the molecular clouds where stars form are steadily enriched by heavier elements from supernovae explosions. as well as the star's evolution.[91] There also exist chemically peculiar stars that show unusual abundances of certain elements in their spectrum. a measurement of the chemical composition of a star can be used to infer its age. Some stars may even be close to 13. Age Most stars are between 1 billion and 10 billion years old. The oldest star yet discovered. especially chromium and rare earth elements.[83] [84] The Sun is the nearest star to Earth. including essential characteristics such as luminosity and size. while stars of minimum mass (red dwarfs) burn their fuel very slowly and last tens to hundreds of billions of years.[88] The portion of heavier elements may also be an indicator of the likelihood that the star has a planetary system.000th the iron content of the Sun. HE 1523-0901.[89] The star with the lowest iron content ever measured is the dwarf HE1327-2326. The more massive the star. The most massive stars last an average of about one million years.[85] [86] Chemical composition When stars form in the present Milky Way galaxy they are composed of about 71% hydrogen and 27% helium. which vary anywhere from 20 to 40 km in diameter. and to provide daylight. causing them to burn hydrogen more rapidly.[93] The disks of most stars are much too small in angular size to be observed with current ground-based optical telescopes. which has a diameter approximately 650 times larger than the Sun—about 0. However. while the planet-bearing star 14 Herculis has nearly triple the iron.[90] By contrast. and eventual fate. Betelgeuse has a much lower density than the Sun.057 arcseconds.9 billion kilometres.[95] . By precisely measuring the drop in brightness of a star as it is occulted by the Moon (or the rise in brightness when it reappears). is an estimated 13. Other than the Sun. lifespan. Typically the portion of heavy elements is measured in terms of the iron content of the stellar atmosphere. The Sun is also a star. with a small fraction of heavier elements. but it is close enough to the Earth to appear as a disk instead.7 billion years old—the observed age of the universe. with an angular diameter of only 0. to supergiants like Betelgeuse in the Orion constellation.2 billion years old. as iron is a common element and its absorption lines are relatively easy to measure. the super-metal-rich star μ Leonis has nearly double the abundance of iron as the Sun. Another technique for measuring the angular size of stars is through occultation. with only 1/200.

making them good candidates for parallax measurements. older stars such as the Sun have a much slower rate of rotation and a lower level of surface . The magnetic Surface magnetic field of SU Aur (a young star of T Tauri field can act upon a star's stellar wind. the proper motion can then be converted into units of velocity. By determining the parallax The Pleiades.[98] Comparison of the kinematics of nearby stars has also led to the identification of stellar associations. [99] Magnetic field The magnetic field of a star is generated within regions of the interior where convective circulation occurs. The components of motion of a star consist of the radial velocity toward or away from the Sun. functioning type).[100] Young. This surface activity produces starspots.Star 44 Kinematics The motion of a star relative to the Sun can provide useful information about the origin and age of a star. the space velocity of the star relative to the Sun or the galaxy can be computed. and the traverse angular movement. which are regions of strong magnetic fields and lower than normal surface temperatures. Stellar flares are bursts of high-energy particles that are emitted due to the same magnetic activity. an open cluster of stars in the constellation of Taurus. which is called its proper motion. Thus. Coronal loops are arching magnetic fields that reach out into the corona from active regions. The latter have elliptical orbits that are inclined to the plane of the galaxy. The proper motion of a star is determined by precise astrometric measurements in units of milli-arc seconds (mas) per year. it has been found that population I stars have generally lower velocities than older. and the amount of magnetic surface activity depends upon the star's rate of rotation. Radial velocity is measured by the doppler shift of the star's spectral lines. These are most likely groups of stars that share a common point of origin in giant molecular clouds. This movement of conductive plasma functions like a dynamo. as well as the structure and evolution of the surrounding galaxy. rapidly rotating stars tend to have high levels of surface activity because of their magnetic field.[97] Once both rates of movement are known. NASA photo. population II stars. however. of a star. generating magnetic fields that extend throughout the star. These stars [96] share a common motion through space. reconstructed by means of Zeeman-Doppler imaging as a brake to gradually slow the rate of rotation as the star grows older. Stars with high rates of proper motion are likely to be relatively close to the Sun. and is given in units of km/s. The strength of the magnetic field varies with the mass and composition of the star. Among nearby stars.

however. for example. while the opposite is the case for degenerate. with higher gravity causing a broadening of the absorption lines.994 km/s.[111] .Star activity. compact stars such as white dwarfs. its lifespan is very short—only several million years at most. or more exactly determined by tracking the rotation rate of starspots. population III stars is long extinct.[105] due to the complete absence of elements heavier than lithium in their composition. This rate of rotation is just below the critical velocity of 300 km/s where the star would break apart. giving it an equatorial diameter that is more than 50% larger than the distance between the poles.5 times the mass of the Sun. a recent study of the faintest stars found that the minimum star size seems to be about 8. a companion to AB Doradus A. A study of the Arches cluster suggests that 150 solar masses is the upper limit for stars in the current era of the universe. Giant stars have a much lower surface gravity than main sequence stars.[108] [109] Smaller bodies are called brown dwarfs. is the smallest known star undergoing nuclear fusion in its core. putting this limit into question.[32] Rotation The rotation rate of stars can be approximated through spectroscopic measurement.[103] The reason for this limit is not precisely known. The activity levels of slowly rotating stars tend to vary in a cyclical manner and can shut down altogether for periods. 45 Mass One of the most massive stars known is Eta Carinae.[110] By contrast. The star's magnetic field and the stellar wind serve to slow down a main sequence star's rate of rotation by a significant amount as it evolves on the main sequence. but it is partially due to the Eddington luminosity which defines the maximum amount of luminosity that can pass through the atmosphere of a star without ejecting the gases into space. The B-class star Achernar. a variable star with about 3.[101] During the Maunder minimum. the Sun only rotates once every 25 – 35 days. for example.3% of the solar mass. This generation of supermassive.[102] with 100–150 times as much mass as the Sun. the theoretical minimum mass the star can have. The black patch of sky is a vast hole of empty space and not a dark nebula as previously thought.[104] The first stars to form after the Big Bang may have been larger. The surface gravity can influence the appearance of a star's spectrum. the Sun underwent a 70-year period with almost no sunspot activity. and still undergo fusion at the core. which occupy a poorly defined grey area between stars and gas giants.[107] [108] When the metallicity is very low. or about 87 times the mass of Jupiter.NASA image The combination of the radius and the mass of a star determines the surface gravity. However. a star named R136a1 in the RMC 136a star cluster has been measured at 265 solar masses. Young stars can have a rapid rate of rotation greater than 100 km/s at the equator. up to 300 solar masses or more. With a mass only 93 times that of Jupiter. is estimated to be about 75 times the mass of Jupiter. however. has an equatorial rotation velocity of about 225 km/s or greater. and currently only theoretical. AB Doradus C.[106] For stars with similar metallicity to the Sun. with an equatorial velocity of 1. The reflection nebula NGC 1999 is brilliantly illuminated by V380 Orionis (center).

along with its visual absolute magnitude and absorption features. as determined by the peak frequency of the visible light. If the distance of the star is known. stars also emit forms of electromagnetic radiation that are invisible to the human eye.000 K. such as by measuring the parallax. The production of energy at the core is the reason why stars shine so brightly: every time two or more atomic nuclei of one element fuse together to form an atomic nucleus of a new heavier element. This energy is converted to other forms of electromagnetic energy. (Mass can be measured directly for stars in binary systems. emanating from the star’s outer layers) and as a steady stream of neutrinos emanating from the star’s core. A large portion of the star's angular momentum is dissipated as a result of mass loss through the stellar wind. as stars actually have a temperature gradient that decreases with increasing distance from the core. The mass. depends on the temperature of the star’s outer layers.[117] Radiation The energy produced by stars. alpha particles. and rotation period can then be estimated based on stellar models.[121] .[32] Massive main sequence stars can have surface temperatures of 50. X-rays. astronomers can also estimate the age of the star. Red giants have relatively low surface temperatures of about 3. However they have relatively low rates of rotation compared to what would be expected by conservation of angular momentum—the tendency of a rotating body to compensate for a contraction in size by increasing its rate of spin. by the time it reaches the star’s outer layers.[114] It is normally given as the effective temperature. are typically significant. The pulsar at the heart of the Crab nebula. 46 Temperature The surface temperature of a main sequence star is determined by the rate of energy production at the core and the radius of the star and is often estimated from the star's color index. and gamma rays. and beta particles. surface gravity. The technique of gravitational microlensing will also yield the mass of a star. for example. both visible and invisible. including visible light.[115] The temperature in the core region of a star is several million kelvins. however. resulting in characteristic absorption lines in the spectrum. The particle radiation emitted by a star is manifested as the stellar wind[118] (which exists as a steady stream of electrically charged particles. The color of a star. radiates into space as both electromagnetic radiation and particle radiation.[119] Besides visible light. then the luminosity of the star can be derived. stellar electromagnetic radiation spans the entire electromagnetic spectrum. is used to classify a star (see classification below).[112] In spite of this. In fact. gamma ray photons are released from the nuclear fusion reaction. such as free protons. Using the stellar spectrum. including its photosphere. rotates 30 times per second. but they also have a high luminosity due to their large exterior surface area.[116] The stellar temperature will determine the rate of energization or ionization of different elements.Star Degenerate stars have contracted into a compact mass. from the longest wavelengths of radio waves and infrared to the shortest wavelengths of ultraviolet. astronomers can also determine the surface temperature. The surface temperature of a star. which is the temperature of an idealized black body that radiates its energy at the same luminosity per surface area as the star. the rate of rotation for a pulsar can be very rapid.[120] ) With these parameters. metallicity and rotational velocity of a star. as a by-product of nuclear fusion. Smaller stars such as the Sun have surface temperatures of a few thousand K. Note that the effective temperature is only a representative value. radius. All components of stellar electromagnetic radiation. surface gravity.600 K.[113] The rotation rate of the pulsar will gradually slow due to the emission of radiation. resulting in a rapid rate of rotation.



In astronomy, luminosity is the amount of light, and other forms of radiant energy, a star radiates per unit of time. The luminosity of a star is determined by the radius and the surface temperature. However, many stars do not radiate a uniform flux—the amount of energy radiated per unit area—across their entire surface. The rapidly rotating star Vega, for example, has a higher energy flux at its poles than along its equator.[122] Surface patches with a lower temperature and luminosity than average are known as starspots. Small, dwarf stars such as the Sun generally have essentially featureless disks with only small starspots. Larger, giant stars have much bigger, much more obvious starspots,[123] and they also exhibit strong stellar limb darkening. That is, the brightness decreases towards the edge of the stellar disk.[124] Red dwarf flare stars such as UV Ceti may also possess prominent starspot features.[125]

The apparent brightness of a star is measured by its apparent magnitude, which is the brightness of a star with respect to the star’s luminosity, distance from Earth, and the altering of the star’s light as it passes through Earth’s atmosphere. Intrinsic or absolute magnitude is directly related to a star’s luminosity and is what the apparent magnitude a star would be if the distance between the Earth and the star were 10 parsecs (32.6 light-years).

Number of stars brighter than magnitude
Apparent Number  magnitude of Stars[126] 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4 15 48 171 513 1,602 4,800 14,000

Both the apparent and absolute magnitude scales are logarithmic units: one whole number difference in magnitude is equal to a brightness variation of about 2.5 times[127] (the 5th root of 100 or approximately 2.512). This means that a first magnitude (+1.00) star is about 2.5 times brighter than a second magnitude (+2.00) star, and approximately 100 times brighter than a sixth magnitude (+6.00) star. The faintest stars visible to the naked eye under good seeing conditions are about magnitude +6. On both apparent and absolute magnitude scales, the smaller the magnitude number, the brighter the star; the larger the magnitude number, the fainter. The brightest stars, on either scale, have negative magnitude numbers. The variation in brightness (ΔL) between two stars is calculated by subtracting the magnitude number of the brighter star (mb) from the magnitude number of the fainter star (mf), then using the difference as an exponent for the base number 2.512; that is to say:

Relative to both luminosity and distance from Earth, absolute magnitude (M) and apparent magnitude (m) are not equivalent for an individual star;[127] for example, the bright star Sirius has an apparent magnitude of −1.44, but it has an absolute magnitude of +1.41.

Star The Sun has an apparent magnitude of −26.7, but its absolute magnitude is only +4.83. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky as seen from Earth, is approximately 23 times more luminous than the Sun, while Canopus, the second brightest star in the night sky with an absolute magnitude of −5.53, is approximately 14,000 times more luminous than the Sun. Despite Canopus being vastly more luminous than Sirius, however, Sirius appears brighter than Canopus. This is because Sirius is merely 8.6 light-years from the Earth, while Canopus is much farther away at a distance of 310 light-years. As of 2006, the star with the highest known absolute magnitude is LBV 1806-20, with a magnitude of −14.2. This star is at least 5,000,000 times more luminous than the Sun.[128] The least luminous stars that are currently known are located in the NGC 6397 cluster. The faintest red dwarfs in the cluster were magnitude 26, while a 28th magnitude white dwarf was also discovered. These faint stars are so dim that their light is as bright as a birthday candle on the Moon when viewed from the Earth.[129]


Surface Temperature Ranges for Different Stellar Classes[130]
Class O B A F G K M Temperature 33,000 K or more 10,500–30,000 K 7,500–10,000 K 6,000–7,200 K 5,500–6,000 K 4,000–5,250 K 2,600–3,850 K Sample star Zeta Ophiuchi Rigel Altair Procyon A Sun Epsilon Indi Proxima Centauri

The current stellar classification system originated in the early 20th century, when stars were classified from A to Q based on the strength of the hydrogen line.[131] It was not known at the time that the major influence on the line strength was temperature; the hydrogen line strength reaches a peak at over 9000 K, and is weaker at both hotter and cooler temperatures. When the classifications were reordered by temperature, it more closely resembled the modern scheme.[132] There are different single-letter classifications of stars according to their spectra, ranging from type O, which are very hot, to M, which are so cool that molecules may form in their atmospheres. The main classifications in order of decreasing surface temperature are: O, B, A, F, G, K, and M. A variety of rare spectral types have special classifications. The most common of these are types L and T, which classify the coldest low-mass stars and brown dwarfs. Each letter has 10 sub-divisions, numbered from 0 to 9, in order of decreasing temperature. However, this system breaks down at extreme high temperatures: class O0 and O1 stars may not exist.[133] In addition, stars may be classified by the luminosity effects found in their spectral lines, which correspond to their spatial size and is determined by the surface gravity. These range from 0 (hypergiants) through III (giants) to V (main sequence dwarfs); some authors add VII (white dwarfs). Most stars belong to the main sequence, which consists of ordinary hydrogen-burning stars. These fall along a narrow, diagonal band when graphed according to their absolute magnitude and spectral type.[133] Our Sun is a main sequence G2V yellow dwarf, being of intermediate temperature and ordinary size.

Star Additional nomenclature, in the form of lower-case letters, can follow the spectral type to indicate peculiar features of the spectrum. For example, an "e" can indicate the presence of emission lines; "m" represents unusually strong levels of metals, and "var" can mean variations in the spectral type.[133] White dwarf stars have their own class that begins with the letter D. This is further sub-divided into the classes DA, DB, DC, DO, DZ, and DQ, depending on the types of prominent lines found in the spectrum. This is followed by a numerical value that indicates the temperature index.[134]


Variable stars
Variable stars have periodic or random changes in luminosity because of intrinsic or extrinsic properties. Of the intrinsically variable stars, the primary types can be subdivided into three principal groups. During their stellar evolution, some stars pass through phases where they can become pulsating variables. Pulsating variable stars vary in radius and luminosity over time, expanding and contracting with periods ranging from minutes to years, depending on the size of the star. This category includes Cepheid and cepheid-like stars, and long-period variables such as Mira.[135] Eruptive variables are stars that experience sudden increases in luminosity because of flares or mass ejection events.[135] This group includes protostars, Wolf-Rayet stars, and Flare stars, as well as giant and supergiant stars.

The asymmetrical appearance of Mira, an oscillating variable star. NASA HST image

Cataclysmic or explosive variables undergo a dramatic change in their properties. This group includes novae and supernovae. A binary star system that includes a nearby white dwarf can produce certain types of these spectacular stellar explosions, including the nova and a Type 1a supernova.[4] The explosion is created when the white dwarf accretes hydrogen from the companion star, building up mass until the hydrogen undergoes fusion.[136] Some novae are also recurrent, having periodic outbursts of moderate amplitude.[135] Stars can also vary in luminosity because of extrinsic factors, such as eclipsing binaries, as well as rotating stars that produce extreme starspots.[135] A notable example of an eclipsing binary is Algol, which regularly varies in magnitude from 2.3 to 3.5 over a period of 2.87 days.

The interior of a stable star is in a state of hydrostatic equilibrium: the forces on any small volume almost exactly counterbalance each other. The balanced forces are inward gravitational force and an outward force due to the pressure gradient within the star. The pressure gradient is established by the temperature gradient of the plasma; the outer part of the star is cooler than the core. The temperature at the core of a main sequence or giant star is at least on the order of 107 K. The resulting temperature and pressure at the hydrogen-burning core of a main sequence star are sufficient for nuclear fusion to occur and for sufficient energy to be produced to prevent further collapse of the star.[137] [138] As atomic nuclei are fused in the core, they emit energy in the form of gamma rays. These photons interact with the surrounding plasma, adding to the thermal energy at the core. Stars on the main sequence convert hydrogen into helium, creating a slowly but steadily increasing proportion of helium in the core. Eventually the helium content becomes predominant and energy production ceases at the core. Instead, for stars of more than 0.4 solar masses,

This is the layer at which the plasma of the star becomes transparent to photons of light.[138] The portion of a star that is visible to an observer is called the photosphere. the influence of its solar wind extends throughout the bubble-shaped region of the heliosphere. the energy generated at the core becomes free to propagate out into space. The outgoing flux of energy leaving any layer within the star will exactly match the incoming flux from below.4 solar masses are convective throughout. appear. In this region the plasma will not be perturbed and any mass motions will die out. This can occur. a volume of super-heated plasma that can extend outward to several million kilometres. or regions of lower than average temperature. a stellar wind of plasma particles expands outward from the star. however.[142] This diagram shows a cross-section of a solar-type star. the corona emits very little light.[139] In addition to hydrostatic equilibrium. where the temperature rapidly increases within a distance of only 100 km. the interior of a stable star will also maintain an energy balance of thermal equilibrium. for example. with the convective zone located in the outer layers. In a main sequence star such as the Sun. There is a radial temperature gradient throughout the interior that results in a flux of energy flowing toward the exterior. Above the level of the photosphere is the stellar atmosphere. such as near the core or in areas with high opacity as in the outer envelope. From here. propagating until it interacts with the interstellar medium. the lowest level of the atmosphere is the thin chromosphere region.[140] Red dwarf stars with less than 0. For the Sun. which prevents the accumulation of a helium core. The corona region of the Sun is normally only visible during a solar eclipse. It is within the photosphere that sun spots. This is surrounded by a transition region. then the plasma becomes unstable and convection will occur. where spicules appear and stellar flares begin. The radiation zone is the region within the stellar interior where radiative transfer is sufficiently efficient to maintain the flux of energy.[140] Despite its high temperature. Smaller stars such as the Sun are just the opposite. in regions where very high energy fluxes occur.[141] The existence of a corona appears to be dependent on a convective zone in the outer layers of the star. From the corona. NASA image 50 .Star fusion occurs in a slowly expanding shell around the degenerate helium core. Beyond this is the corona. forming a convection zone. If this is not the case.[138] The occurrence of convection in the outer envelope of a main sequence star depends on the mass.[2] For most stars the convective zones will also vary over time as the star ages and the constitution of the interior is modified. Stars with several times the mass of the Sun have a convection zone deep within the interior and a radiative zone in the outer layers.

helium is produced in a cycle of reactions catalyzed by carbon—the carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle.2 MeV . γ is a gamma ray photon. respectively. with a 10 million K core. and H and He are isotopes of hydrogen and helium.5 MeV) 23He → 4He + 21H (12.01 0.Star 51 Nuclear fusion reaction pathways A variety of different nuclear fusion reactions take place inside the cores of stars. However enormous numbers of these reactions occur constantly. producing all the energy necessary to sustain the star's radiation output.0 MeV) 21H + 22H → 23He + 2γ (5.9 MeV) These reactions result in the overall reaction: where e+ is a positron. This lost mass is released as electromagnetic energy. helium can be transformed into carbon in the triple-alpha process that uses the intermediate element beryllium:[143] 4 4 He + 4He + 92 keV → 8*Be He + 8*Be + 67 keV → 12*C C → 12C + γ + 7. The net mass of the fused atomic nuclei is smaller than the sum of the constituents. hydrogen fuses to form helium in the proton-proton chain reaction:[143] 41H → 22H + 2e+ + 2νe (4.0 MeV + 1.4 MeV 12* For an overall reaction of: 34He → 12C + γ + 7. so a moderate increase in the core temperature will result in a significant increase in the fusion rate.7 MeV) The carbon-nitrogen-oxygen cycle Minimum stellar mass required for fusion Element Solar masses 0. depending upon their mass and composition.4 5 [144] 8 Hydrogen Helium Carbon Neon In more massive stars. The energy released by this reaction is in millions of electron volts. 41H → 4He + 2e+ + 2γ + 2νe (26.[143] In evolved stars with cores at 100 million K and masses between 0.5 and 10 solar masses.[1] The hydrogen fusion process is temperature-sensitive. As a result the core temperature of main sequence stars only varies from 4 million K for a small M-class star to 40 million K for a massive O-class star.[116] In the Sun. νe is a neutrino. according to the mass-energy equivalence relationship E = mc². as part of stellar nucleosynthesis. which is actually only a tiny amount of energy.

and so further energy can only be produced through gravitational collapse. As an O-class main sequence star. • "How To Decipher Classification Codes" [150]. Bantam Books. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2010-08-20.[143] The example below shows the amount of time required for a star of 20 solar masses to consume all of its nuclear fuel.1 million 1.550 33. Wood. Fusion can not proceed any further except through an endothermic process. The final stage in the stellar nucleosynthesis process is the silicon burning process that results in the production of the stable isotope iron-56. ISBN 0-19-514874-6.6 1. Barbara. Wolff. Jon. Mary Gribbin (2001). "Star" [147]. A Brief History of Time. University of Illinois. Kenneth. Structure. ISBN 0-553-17521-1. Retrieved 2010-08-20.570 1. Dobsonian Telescope Community. SIMBAD.000 times the Sun's luminosity. Centre de Données astronomiques de Strasbourg. • "Live Star Chart" [151]. David. The Stars of Heaven.400 See also • • • • • • • • List of star related topics List of largest stars Sidereal clock Star clocks Star count Stellar astronomy Nursery rhyme Twinkle twinkle little star Stars and planetary systems in fiction Further reading • Pickover. ISBN 0-300-09097-8. • Hawking. Retrieved 2010-08-20. coordinates or reference code" [149]. Gray. View the stars above your location • Prialnick.340 Burn duration (τ in years) 8. Inc. World Book. Mihalas. Astronomical Society of South Australia. Dimitri (2001). Yale University Press. Retrieved 2010-08-20.25 0. James. World Book Online Reference Center.Star In massive stars. Whitney. Stephen (1988). Paul J (2005). Cliff (2001).100 5. University of St. External links • Green. Michael. Andrews. John. • Kaler. Retrieved 2010-08-20. "Stars: Stellar Atmospheres. heavier elements can also be burned in a contracting core through the neon burning process and oxygen burning process. "Portraits of Stars and their Constellations" [148]. Retrieved . Bjorkman. Stardust: Supernovae and Life—The Cosmic Connection. • "Query star by identifier.0045 0.0315 [146] 52 Fuel material H He C Ne O S/Si Density (kg/cm³) 0. & Evolution" [152]. • Gribbin.97 170 3. Dina.2 million 976 0.[145] Temperature (million kelvins) 37 188 870 1. it would be 8 times the solar radius and 62.980 3.

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