TYPES of STARS - Classes, Characteristics and Names

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Humanity has looked up to the sky to gaze at the stars since time immemorial. In fact, we probably do it before we even become human today. These stars in the sky have been a source of inspiration for artists of all kinds, to a very important source of information on what the universe in which we live is like, to a vital guide for sailors and travelers.

Do you also want to know more about the different types of stars? So, don't hesitate and join us in this interesting Green Ecologist article.

What are the stars and stellar classification

The astronomy define the stars as plasma spheroids that emit light and they maintain their structure thanks to the force of gravity. Our closest star is Sun, the only one in the solar system and the one that gives us light and heat, making possible the necessary conditions for our life.

However, there are many kinds of stars. These can be classified by:

  • Its level of light and heat.
  • Its longevity.
  • Its severity.

Let's see, next, what are each of the types of these possible parts of the star ranking. In addition, if you want to learn more information and discover curiosities about these stars, we recommend these other articles by Green Ecologist about What the stars are made of, How are the stars in the sky and Difference between planet, star and natural satellite.

Types of stars according to their temperature and luminosity

The call Harvard spectral classification, which gets its name from having been developed at Harvard University in the late 19th century, is the most common of the classifications used by astronomers. Divide the stars according to their temperature and luminosity apparent, taking their color as a reference. This classification includes 7 main types: O, B, A, F, G, K and M, with colors ranging from blue to red.

However, the Yerkes spectral classification or MK system, which came later, takes into account both stellar temperature and surface gravity, which influences luminosity. Therefore, a more specific classification results. The Yerkes spectral classification divides stars into 9 types:

  • 0 - Hypergiant
  • Ia - Very luminous supergiant
  • Ib - Supergiant of lower luminosity
  • II - Luminous Giant
  • III - Giant
  • IV - Subgiant
  • V - Dwarf main sequence stars
  • VI - Subenana
  • VII - White Dwarf

Types of stars according to their light and heat

  • Are considered hypergiant stars those that have up to 100 M (the mass of our Sun), approaching the maximum theoretical limit of 120 M.
  • The supergiant starsInstead, they have a mass between 10 and 50 M, and dimensions of up to 1000 times that of our Sun.
  • The giant stars they usually have a radius between 10 and 100 times the solar radius.
  • The subgiant stars They are the ones that have fused all the hydrogen in their nuclei. They are brighter than the main sequence dwarfs, but less than the giants.
  • The dwarf stars they are part of the main sequence, which encompasses most of the stars in the universe. Our Sun is a yellow dwarf.
  • The sub-dwarf stars they have a luminosity between 1.5 and 2 magnitudes below those of the main sequence but with the same spectral type.
  • The white dwarf starsFinally, they are the remnant of stars that have run out of nuclear fuel. They are the most numerous in the universe together with red dwarfs, and it is estimated that 97% of known stars will go through this phase.

In the image below you can see the size comparison between some of the types of stars and some well-known planets, such as Earth and Jupiter. And since we have talked about the luminosity of the stars, we also encourage you to discover these other posts about Why do stars shine at night and not during day and Why do you not see stars in cities.

Image: NASA

Types of stars according to their life cycle

The classification of stars according to their life cycle spans from the birth of the protostar from a large molecular cloud to the death of the star in their different forms and the different stellar remnants they can leave behind.

Phases of the star's life

  1. PSP: Main Presequence
  2. SP: Main Sequence
  3. SubG: Subgiant
  4. GR: Red Giant
  5. AR: Red Crowding
  6. RH: horizontal branch
  7. RAG: Giant Asymptotic Branch
  8. SGAz: Blue supergiant
  9. SGAm: Yellow supergiant
  10. SGR: Red Supergiant
  11. WR: Star Wolf-Rayet
  12. VLA: Blue luminous variable

What's more, stars can die in different ways, Which are the following:

  • EM: Brown dwarf
  • NP: Planetary Nebula
  • SN: Supernova
  • HN: Hypernova
  • BRG: Gamma Ray Outbreak

And finally, these are the star remnants that can leave:

  • EB: White dwarf
  • EN: Neutron star
  • AN: Black hole

Types of stars according to gravity

The gravitational classification of star types takes into account four gravitational criteria. These are relatively recent, since they were established in 2006 by the International Astronomical Union. They are as follows:

  • Classification by stellar gravitational center.
  • Systemic star ranking by position.
  • Classification of stars by gravitational grouping.
  • Star classification by planetary system.

Therefore, astronomers too classify the types of stars according to the stellar gravitational center, by systemic stars by position, by gravitational grouping and by planetary system.

How many stars are in the Milky Way and in the universe

It is not feasible to count all stars of the universe observable one by one. Instead, the galaxies are counted to make estimates and averages of solar masses contained in them and, therefore, of stars.

It is believed that our galaxy, the Milky Way, contains between 150,000 and 400,000 million stars. Taking into account the number of observable galaxies, astronomers estimate a total number of stars of around 70,000 trillion stars, that is, one seven and twenty-two zeros. Of these, we are only able to observe 9,096 with the naked eye.

That said, one last note is worth leaving: the Shooting Stars They are not stars despite their name. They are meteors, small particles that disappear due to friction against the atmosphere when they enter, producing their ephemeral glow. Learn more about whether the stars move or are they fixed? and What are shooting stars and how are they formed with these other Green Ecologist posts.

Now that you know the types of stars and more curiosities about the universe, you might also be interested in these other topics about How many planets are in the Solar System, the universe and the Milky Way and How the planet Earth was formed.

If you want to read more articles similar to Types of stars, we recommend that you enter our category of Curiosities of the Earth and the universe.

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