You are on page 1of 11

Physics Assessment Task 5b

The Cosmic Engine

Research Assignment

By Peter Kariatlis
The Star Life Cycle

Step 1. Please refer to Figure 1. Below.

(We see this as light energy). Main sequence stars all convert hydrogen into helium in their cores in a process called fusion. Eventually. although the more massive stars will not spend most of its lifecycle in MS. Radiation from this hot core will ionize the nebula. Once the planetary nebula has been ejected. Step 3b and 5. As the central temperature and density continue to rise the star begins to stabilize and consequently form main sequence stars. its internal temperature and density rise until the protostar within glows red faintly. which will be swept away by a powerful wind. a massive cloud will accumulate sufficient matter for its own gravitational attraction to draw it still further together. Once a star (of less than 8 solar masses) exhausts its supply of hydrogen in its core. All the material . As the core of the cloud begins pulling itself together. Step 2a and 2b (Also known as main sequence stars). the star is stable (this means it neither shrinks nor expands). this is a supernova explosion. During this process of fusion the star releases energy which eventually reaches the surface of the sun. and leave behind a hot core of carbon imbedded in a nebula of gas. A star will spend almost 90% of its lifetime on the MS (Main sequence). This high density core resists further collapse causing the matter around to "bounce" off the core. Stars form from the gas and dust of the interstellar medium.Every star starts its life in a stellar Nebula. the left over star is a white dwarf. Step 3a and 4. Step 6 White Dwarfs. the star will lose all of the mass in its envelope. Death of a Massive Star. Occasionally. there is no longer any source of heat to support the core against gravity. this therefore means the core of the star has a higher temperature than the average star. When this occurs the star will be bright as a galaxy of a billion stars. producing a planetary nebula. at the same time the outer envelope expands and evolves into a red giant. The core contracts until it reaches temperature to burn carbon into oxygen and various other elements including iron. the iron core collapses until it reaches very high densities. and after consequently using up all remaining fuel within and are the dimmest stars in the universe. This means it is easier for fusion to take place and therefore use up the fuel for fusion faster. In the Main Sequence Phase of a star's evolution. This brief phase only lasts about a few tens of thousands of years. Once the helium in the cores of these massive stars (greater than 8 solar masses) has been used up the nuclear burning cycle continues. Death of an Average Star. Without any source of heat to balance the gravity. There is stronger gravity in the more massive stars. The core collapses until it can start converting helium into carbon.

Black Dwarfs. Step 7b. The centre is composed of mostly neutrons and is very small in size. Black Holes Another course after a massive star collapses is the core of the old star can form a deep gravitational ‘warp’ in space which are called black holes. Neutron Stars. the central part of the massive star collapses to form a neutron star. Fig 1. with a surface temperature of about 20000 degrees Celsius. They will evolve from white dwarfs after cooling over a period longer than the lifespan of our universe so far. Black dwarfs do not exist in our universe at the moment. This is why Neutron stars are sometimes known as pulsars.that contained in the star will be packed into a volume one millionth the size of the original star. When a massive star collapses and passes the red super giant stage and after the supernova. Hertzsprung-Russel Diagram . Neutron stars have extreme gravitational pull and even bend the atoms within it are transformed into unusual shapes. the particles around the star become charged and release radiation which are called pulsars. A black hole does not have a surface. Step 7a. Black holes are incredibly dense with a gravitational field so strong that even light cannot escape. but has a region around it which is called the event horizon. If the neutron star is rotating.

Giants and Supergiants (Top right area of diagram). .Analysis of the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (Refer to Above).

The stars that make up this part of the HR diagram vary in colour. compared to other stars in the universe that exist. Main sequence stars are located along this line usually. and is very bright. O being brighter and more blue/white in color. This is called the spectral class of the stars. B. and are plotted towards the upper left of the ZAMS line. The heavier stars are hotter and have a higher luminosity. The White Dwarfs (Under ZAMS) The White Dwarfs are located under the ZAMS due to their low luminosity. but has an extremely hot surface temperature. En example of a star in this group is Rigal. and are less luminous and have a cooler temperature. . Most giants and supergiants have a low surface temperature. These stars can vary in colour and luminosity. The narrow band of clustered stars along the long downward sloping line is known as zero-age main sequence. while the brighter stars are located towards the top. These stars are usually dull in colour. The way the stars are distributed along this sloping line is by many factors. The line in order. Rigal is a relatively hot. At the bottom of the HR diagram is a row of letters. while the blue stars towards the top left (being hotter). Most of these stars are cool in temperature. O. It is dimmer than the sun. while M being orange/red in color and less luminous. but over many billion years will eventually cool and move lower on the HR diagram. K and M. due to their phase of the star lifecycle. F. while the less massive stars are plotted near the lower right. especially some of the higher temperature supergiants. but are typically hot stars. A. O being the hottest while M being coolest. Other information for classifying star groups. and refers to the temperature of the stars. with the red/orange stars (also known as red dwarfs) are at the bottom right (being cooler). The Zero-Age Main Sequence Starts (ZAMS) (Diagonal across Centre). An example of a star in this group is Sirius B. The arrangement of the letters also refer to the luminosity/color.Giants and supergiants are a prominent group of stars in the universe. Typically on a HR diagram stars that are hotter are towards the left. but are hot because of compaction. the most significant factor is the mass. again in correlation to the temperature and luminosity. light blue star. Y-axis) on account of their massive area. Supergiants and giants only appear bright (higher luminosity. with most giants a red or orange colour with moderate luminosity and supergiants with colours from red to blue and have a higher luminosity than giants. G.

and can be identified by sunburn/suntan due to exposure. . but there are traces of other emissions either way of the curve here. About half of the suns emissions (see graph) are from these waves of the electromagnetic spectrum.The sun emits ultraviolet light in the all three UV bands A. The outermost corona of the sun. where temperatures are up to 5 million degrees is where the visible light emissions come from. Emissions from the sun include light. Ultra violet radiation is another emission reaching the earth from the sun. The sun emits most of its radiation in the following part of the electromagnetic spectrum. but most is absorbed by the earth’s atmosphere's ozone layer the part that does reach the earths surface is 99% of the time UVA. The following identifies and describes the nature of major emissions reaching the earth from the sun. such as the Sun. and is considered the most dominant emission from the sun. Emissions from the Sun. usually between the photo and chromosphere. There are many emissions that are emitted from the sun that impact and reach the earth. Visible light is an emission that comes from the sun. The emmited UV radiation comes from inside the sun where the temperatures range from 6000-50000 degree celsius. and take up to 8 minutes to reach the earth. heat and UV radiation and many other things. which is a form of electromagnetic radiation and travels at the speed of light and can be ‘seen’ by our eyes. Ultraviolet radiation is produced by high-temperature surfaces. B and C.

Other minor emissions from the sun include.X-rays are also another emission from the sun. the temperature needed to release x-rays from the sun are very great ( millions of degrees). gamma and microwaves (if they can penetrate the atmosphere). due to energy being released from the reactions within. Another emission is Coronal Mass Ejections (see picture below). Other emissions include the solar wind (which will be described further on in the report) which can reach the earth and have effects on the communications and power industries. because the smaller the wavelength. X-rays are created within the core of the sun. . the higher the energy. and when reaches the earth can have similar effects as the solar wind on the earth. these emissions very rarely reach the earth but still can. The sun is a extremely hot body that emits thermal radiation.. when hydrogen burns to form helium. Coronal Mass Ejections are caused and produced (and have similar composition to the solar wind. The following picture shows the x-rays emitted from the sun. in particular effects on communications and electrical. which will be descirbed later on) from eruptions on the surface of the sun. Infrared waves are another emission reaching the earth from the sun and are identified as a sensation of heat from the sunlight. although a very small %.

The Solar Wind The solar wind is the outward flow of material escaping from the Suns spheres of influence. and can travel at 400 km/s. When these particles are ejected from the sun. they shape the magnetic field to be somewhat of a “teardrop” shape (shown below). thus protons***. The composition is as follows: . The solar wind can bring many effects to the earth. Oxygen and Neon and many other elements. Nitrogen. and they carry with them the magnetic field lines (called IMF or interplanetary magnetic field) that originate in the solar corona. due to their electrons being taken from them because of the suns temperature. in which regions called coronal holes eject these particles. The coronal holes are cooler. The composition of the solar wind can be described as a “stream of ionized particles”. electrons 1% and the remaining % (if any) is made up of other ions including Carbon. The source and cause of the solar wind is from the sun’s corona. The solar wind is responsible for deflecting both the tail of the Earth's magnetosphere and the tails of comets away from the Sun. protons ***(from hydrogen nuclei) . When these ionized particles hit the earth’s magnetic field at high speeds. Gaseous material ejected from the suns is so hot that atoms do not exist. denser areas compared to the rest of the surface of the sun. The solar wind is balanced in its ion content and is not electrically charged. due to the expansions of gases in the corona. electrons (also known as beta particles. These ejections and many other solar phenomena are also known as solar storms. but positively and negatively charged ions exist. they interact with the suns magnetic field lines. and can take 4 days to reach the earth and its effects felt. alpha particles @@(from helium nuclei. and have a -1 charge) . and have a +2 charge) The solar wind consists of 73% hydrogen. . 23% helium @@ thus alpha particles.

Sunspots Formation Sunspots are described and seen as dark spots that appear on the sun’s photosphere. due to the solar wind. which can penetrate 30cm of metal. this can cause problems with radio communication. Sunspots form due to penetration of magnetic field lines through the photosphere (shown below). These magnetic storms can also cause power disturbances in power lines. Sunspots usually line up parallel to the equator of the sun and have magnetic polarity. When the ions interfere with the ionosphere. which increases and decreases due to reversal of the suns magnetic field. this is because there is no thick magnetosphere and atmosphere as on earth to protect them. the penetration causes a slow down in radiation and heat (because of the slow down of plasma activities) therefore dark areas. Another effect is the solar wind can cause health problems to astronauts. which usually come in pairs form. can cause problems such as cancer to these astronauts. hence one is a south pole and one is a north pole. The radiation. called Sunspots.The solar wind causes can cause geomagnetic storms which can cause disruptions to satellite and communication signals and it reaches the atmosphere can interact with the nitrogen and oxygen to create the aurora borealis. Sunspots have an eleven year cycle. They are cooler areas that have extremely strong magnetic fields. Another effect seen is the tails of comets being “blown” away from the sun. .

This interruption on the telegraph serive would have cause communication links between cities to go down. . they shoot beams of negatively charged electrons into space. Assessment of Effects on Earth When sunspots release their energy. It interrupted telegraph service and caused visible Aurora Borealis that could be seen over most of the southern hemisphere. Sunspot cycle. For example. thus effect people. some of which escape into the earth's atmosphere. a powerful flare was emitted from a sunspot toward Earth on 1 September 1859. and this can be seen as auroral displays that can be seen all over the world. The eleven year sunspot cycle (graph below) coincides with the increased radiation interference with the Earth. with peaks every 11 years.

Australia: Pascal Press. knocked satellites out of orbit and disrupted radio communications. Pemperton. Australia: Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd. [CDROM]. (ed. For example. Excel Preliminary Physics. (2004).> . Williams. in 1989 solar energy from sunspots shut down the electrical power grid in the Canadian. and can then contribute to climatic changes on the surface. J. as it disrupts everyone who is dependant on electricity. When the sunspots coronal ejection of particles hits the earths. (ed. This effect is very negative on the earth. they pose a threat for planet-wide radio blackouts. Willis. Australia: Science Press. For example. United States of America: no publisher given. M. from 1645 – 1715. Encyclopedia Britannica Ultimate Reference CDROM. United States of America: Britannica. telecommunication can be disrupted causing people all over the world to have problems communicating with each other. The Sun. A further effect is the effect of sunspots activities on the Earths climate. (deemed a “small ice age” or the Maunder Minimum) which corresponded to the sunspot activity on the Sun. Spotlight Physics. For example. Physics 1. Another effect is on the electrical industry on earth. Hopkins.) (2001). No author given. the last peak. This occurs when the extra bombardment of solar radiation from sunspot activities affects the outer atmosphere of the Earth. and may lead to death of the organisms and their species. This can affect the biosphere of the earth and can conflict with flora and fauna of the earth. when it was at its lowest. leaving millions of people in the dark for a day.) (2000).nineplanets. [Internet]. N. in 1989.) (2000). B. J. there was a drop in the earths temperature. (ed. Bibliography Butler. Arnett. (2004). D. caused power blackouts. Ken J. <http://www.Sunspot activity can have a negative effect on the Earth. it can shut down power grids all over the world. When the sunspot cycle is at its peak. due to these rapid changes in climate.