The bulk of stars in the galaxy, consisting of our Sun, Sirius and Alpha Centauri A and also B space all key sequence stars. The Sun"s loved one longevity and stability have listed the conditions necessary because that life to evolve below on Earth. Our knowledge of the procedures involved and also characteristics of this crucial group of stars has developed in parallel with our understanding of atom physics.

Properties of key Sequence StarsNucleosynthesis and blend Reactions

Properties of key Sequence Stars

Main sequence stars are qualified by the source of their energy. They space all undergoing blend of hydrogen right into helium within their cores. The rate at i beg your pardon they do this and also the amount of fuel obtainable depends top top the fixed of the star. Massive is the crucial factor in identify the lifespan of a key sequence star, that is size and also its luminosity. Stars ~ above the main sequence also appear to be unchanging for long periods the time. Any kind of model of together stars must be able to account for your stability.

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Hydrostatic Equilibrium

The straightforward model of any main sequence star is the a thick gas/fluid in a state that hydrostatic equilibrium. The inward acting force, gravity, is balanced by exterior acting pressures of gas pressure and also the radiation pressure. Except the extremely hot but tenuous corona , the pressure and also temperature that stars basically boosts as you approach the core.

Main sequence stars basically have a fixed size that is a role of your mass. The an ext massive the star, the greater its gravitational pull inwards. This subsequently compresses the gas more. Together you try and compress a gas the exerts a gas pressure back, the resists the compression. In stars this gas press alone is not enough to withstand the gravitational collapse. Once the core temperature has reached around 10 million K, fusion of hydrogen occurs, releasing energy. This power exerts one outwards radiation pressure as result of the action of the photons ~ above the extremely dense matter in the core. The radiation pressure combined with the gas pressure balances the inward pull of gravity staying clear of further collapse.

Stellar Mass

As was apparent from the evolutionary Hayashi tracks on the ahead page, a star"s position on the key sequence its in reality a role of that is mass. This is an incredibly advantageous relationship, dubbed the mass-luminosity relation. If we recognize where ~ above the key sequence a star is we can infer that mass. In general the an ext massive a star is, the further up the main sequence the is found and the an ext luminous the is. Mathematically this relation is express by:

where n is about 4 for Sun-like stars, 3 for the more massive stars and 2.5 because that dim red key sequence stars. (*Note this formula is not compelled for HSC exams). A 0.1 solar fixed star has only around one-thousandth the luminosity that the sun whereas a 10-solar fixed star is has a luminosity 10,000 × the of our Sun.



Limits ~ above the top mass that stars is believed to be somewhere between 150 and 200 solar masses based upon theoretical modeling. Together stars are very rare and also short-lived.

The higher the mass of a key sequence star, the greater its effective temperature. This, combined with the bigger radius of higher mass key sequence stars accounts for their much higher luminosity. Remember, LT4 and also LR2 so even a small increase in reliable temperature will substantially increase luminosity.

Main-Sequence Lifespan

The main sequence is the phase where a star spends many of the existence. Relative to various other stages in a star"s "life" the is exceptionally long; our sunlight took around 20 million years to type but will certainly spend around 10 billion year (1 × 1010 years) together a key sequence star prior to evolving right into a red giant. What determines the key sequence expectancy of a star?

Main sequence stars vary in mass. You may imagine the a much more massive star has an ext fuel obtainable so have the right to spend more time ~ above the key sequence fusing hydrogen come helium. You would be wrong - the contrary is true. Much more massive stars have a stronger gravitational force acting inwards so their main point gets hotter. The greater temperatures mean that the nuclear reactions take place at a much higher rate in enormous stars. They thus use up their fuel much quicker than lower mass stars. This is analogous come the instance with many chemical reactions, the greater the temperature the quicker the reaction rate.

Lifespans for key sequence stars have actually a large range. Whilst our sunlight will spend 10 billion year on the key sequence, a high-mass, ten solar-mass (10MSun) star will just last 20 million year (2.0× 107 years) top top the main sequence. A star with a only fifty percent the fixed of Sun deserve to spend 80 billion year on the main sequence. This is much longer than the age of the universe which means that every the low-mass stars the have created are still on the main sequence - they have not had actually time to evolve turn off it.

Mass/MSunLuminosity/LSunEffective Temperature (K)Radius/RSunMain sequence lifespan (yrs)


Although there space 92 naturally arising elements and also a few hundred isotopes, the composition of stars is remarkably comparable and simple. Stars are composed nearly entirely the hydrogen and helium. A star such as our sun is about 73% hydrogen by mass and 25% helium. If figured out by number of nuclei climate it is 92% hydrogen and also 7.8% helium. The staying 2% by massive or 0.2% by number is every the heavier elements. Historically astronomers termed these facets with atom numbers better than two as metals. This include aspects such together carbon and oxygen. The use of "metals" is not to be perplexed with the much more common chemical an interpretation of the term.

Metallicity is a measure of the variety of elements heavier than helium in a star and also is expressed together the portion of metals by mass. It deserve to be identified or at least inferred native spectroscopic and photometric observations. In basic stars with greater metallicities room inferred to it is in younger than those with very low values. This is because of the truth that elements heavier 보다 helium room made inside stars through nucleosynthesis and also released right into interstellar room by mass-loss events such together supernova explosions in the so late stages of stellar evolution. At an early stage generations that stars

Stars discovered in the spiral arms of galaxies, including our Sun, are normally younger and also have high metallicities. Lock are referred to as populace I stars. Populace II stars are older, red stars with lower metallicities and also are typically located in globular swarm in galactic halos, in elliptical galaxies and near the galactic center of spiral galaxies.

Nucleosynthesis and blend Reactions

Nucleosynthesis just refers to the production of nuclei heavier than hydrogen. This occurs in main sequence stars with two key processes, the proton-proton chain and the CNO bike (carbon, nitrogen, oxygen). Primordial nucleosynthesis occurred an extremely early in the background of the Universe, causing some helium and little traces the lithium and also deuterium, the heavy isotope the hydrogen. Blend processes in post-main succession stars space responsible for countless of the more heavier nuclei. Other mechanisms such together neutron capture additionally occur in the critical stages of substantial stars. Both debated in later pages.

Main succession stars fuse hydrogen into helium within your cores. This is sometimes called "hydrogen burning" however you have to be mindful with this term. "Burning" indicates a burning reaction v oxygen however the procedure within mainly cores is a nuclear reaction, no a chemistry one.

The nuclear fusion in the cores of key sequence stars involves positive hydrogen nuclei, ionised hydrogen atoms or protons, come slam together, releasing power in the process. At each stage of the reaction, the combined mass of the commodities is less than the full mass of the reactants. This mass distinction is what accounts for the energy released follow to Einstein"s famous equation: E = m c2 whereby E is the energy, m the mass and also c the speed of light in a vacuum. This is far better expressed as:

In conditions such together those on Earth, if we try to carry two protons (hydrogen nuclei) together the electrostatic communication tends to cause them come repel. This coulombic repulsion have to be conquer if the protons room to fuse. The actual process whereby two protons can fuse entails a quantum mechanical effect known as tunneling and in exercise requires the proton to have extremely high kinetic energies. This method that they should be traveling very fast, the is have very high temperatures. Nuclear blend only starts in the cores that stars once the density in the core is great and the temperature reaches around 10 million K.

There space two main processes through which hydrogen fusion takes location in key sequence stars - the proton-proton chain and also the CNO (for carbon, nitrogen, oxygen) cycle.

Proton-Proton (pp) Chain

The main procedure responsible for the energy created in most main sequence stars is the proton-proton (pp) chain. The is the dominant procedure in our Sun and all stars of much less than 1.5 solar masses. The net result of the process is that four hydrogen nuclei, protons, undergo a sequence of combination reactions to develop a helium-4 nucleus. The succession shown below is the most common form of this chain and also is also called the ppI chain. It accounts for 85% the the combination energy exit in the Sun.


The neutrinos space neutral and have extremely low rest masses. They essentially do not communicate with regular matter and also so travel directly out from the core and escape native the star at nearly the rate of light. About 2% the the energy released in the pp chain is brought by this neutrinos.

Positrons room the antiparticle the electrons. Although the pp chain entails the fusion of hydrogen nuclei, the cores that stars quiet contain electron that have actually been ionised or ripped turn off from your hydrogen or helium nuclei. Once a positron collides v an electron, one antimatter-matter event occurs in which each annihilates the other, release yet much more high-energy gamma photons.

Two other creates of the pp chain can occur in stars and contribute about 15% of the power production in the Sun. In the ppII chain, a He-3 nucleus produced via the very first stages of the ppI chain undergoes blend with a He-4 nucleus, creating Be-7 and also releasing a gamma photon. The Be-7 nucleus climate collides with a positron, releasing a neutrino and also forming Li-7. This subsequently fuses with a proton, separating to release two He-4 nuclei. A rarer event is the ppIII chain whereby a Be-7 nucleus produced as above fuses v a proton to kind B-8 and release a gamma photon. B-8 is unstable, experience beta positive degeneration into Be-8, releasing a positron and also a neutrino. Be-8 is additionally unstable and also splits into two He-4 nuclei. This procedure only contributes 0.02% the the Sun"s energy. These develops are summarised as:

CNO Cycle

Stars with a mass of around 1.5 solar masses or much more produce many of their power by a different kind of hydrogen fusion, the CNO cycle. CNO represents carbon, nitrogen and also oxygen as nuclei that these elements are associated in the process. As its name implies, this process is cyclical. It calls for a proton come fuse with a C-12 nuclei to begin the cycle. The resultant N-13 cell core is unstable and also undergoes beta positive decay to C-13. This climate fuses with another proton to from N-14 which consequently fuses with a proton to provide O-15. Being rough this experience beta positive degeneration to kind N-15. As soon as this fuses with a proton, the resultant nucleus immediately splits to type a He-4 nucleus and also a C-12 nucleus. This carbon nucleus is then able come initiate an additional cycle. Carbon-12 therefore acts choose a atom catalyst, the is important for the procedure to proceed yet ultimately is not provided up by it.


Why walk the CNO cycle conquer in higher-mass stars? The answer has to do through temperature. The first stage the the pp chain requires two proton fusing with each other whereas in the CNO cycle, a proton needs to fuse with a carbon-12 nucleus. Together carbon has six protons the coulombic repulsion is better for the first step of the CNO cycle 보다 in the pp chain. The nuclei for this reason require higher kinetic energy to conquer the stronger repulsion. This method they need to have a higher temperature to initiate a CNO fusion. Higher-mass stars have actually a stronger gravitational pull in your cores which leader to higher core temperatures.

The CNO cycle i do not care the chief source of power in stars that 1.5 solar masses or higher. Core temperatures in these stars space 18 million K or greater. As the Sun"s main point temperature is about 16 million K, the CNO cycle accounts for only a minute portion of the complete energy released. The family member energy produced by each process is displayed on the plot below.


Calculating the Sun"s main Sequence Lifespan

As we have currently seen, the Sun has actually a key sequence expectancy of about 10 billion (1 × 1010) years. Just how do astronomers calculate such a value? A first order approximation for this value is surprisingly easy to derive.

You will recall that the fixed of a helium-4 cell core is slightly less than the sum of the 4 separate protons necessary to form it. In atom physics, the masses faced are so little that the atomic mass unit or amu is used rather of the kilogram where 1 amu = 1.66 × 10-27 kg. A proton has actually a fixed of 1.0078 amu so four protons include up to 4.0312 amu. A helium-4 nucleus has a fixed of 4.0026 which method that the massive defect, the difference in between the two complete masses, is 0.0286 amu or only 0.7%. Indigenous equation 6.2:

E = Δm c2 therefore substituting in values givesE = 0.0286(1.66 × 10-27)(3 × 108)2 ∴ E = 4.3 × 10-12 J

The manufacturing of every helium cell core releases only a tiny amount of energy, 10-12 J which does no seem a lot. We understand though measurement the the Sun"s luminosity is 3.90 × 1026 J.s-1. To produce this amount of energy, large numbers that helium, (3.90 × 1026)/(4.3 × 10-12) = 9 × 1037, should be developed every second. Every second, 600 million loads of hydrogen fuse to kind 596 million lots of helium. This method 4 million loads of matter is destroyed and converted into power each second.

The high temperature required for hydrogen combination is only discovered in the core region of the Sun. This comprises only around 10% of its total mass. The power potentially accessible from this massive of hydrogen is roughly:

Etotal = (mass defect per He nucleus produced) × c2 × (mass of H in core) ∴ Etotal = 0.0071(9 × 1016)(0.1 × 2.0 × 1030) = 1.28 × 1044 J

Given the the Sun"s energy output is at this time 3.90 × 1026 J. S-1 and assuming the it will certainly be roughly consistent for its key sequence lifespan, climate the sun has enough core hydrogen for around 10 billion years. As it is currently about about 5 billion years old this means it is half way with its key sequence life.

Energy carry in a Star

We have actually now watched how energy is developed in a star such as the Sun. How, though, go this power escape indigenous the star? 2 processes, radiation and convection, pat a an essential role.

The Sun"s interior comprises three key regions. The core, just 25% the the Sun"s diameter, a radiative zone prolonging from the main point to 70% of the diameter and the outer an ar where convection processes dominate.

High-energy gamma photons produced in the core execute not escape easily from it. The high temperature plasma in the main point is around ten times denser than a thick metal top top Earth. A photon can only travel a centimeter or therefore on average in the core before interacting with and scattering native an electron or positive ion. Each of this interactions changes both the energy and also travel direction the the photon. The direction a photon travel after an communication is arbitrarily so occasionally it is reflected earlier into the core. Nonetheless over many successive interaction the net effect is the the photon progressively makes its way out from the core. The route it take away is referred to as a random walk. Photons lose energy to the electrons and also ions with each interaction creating a variety of photon energies. This procedure is well-known as thermalisation and also results in the characteristic blackbody spectrum that forms the continuous background spectrum the stars.

Interactions between ions and electrons likewise produce many added photons of miscellaneous energies. These also contribute come the blackbody spectrum.

The electrons and nuclei developed in fusion reactions likewise carry kinetic power that they have the right to impart to other particles through interactions, elevating the thermal power of the plasma. Neutrinos developed by the various blend and decay reactions take trip out from the main point at nearly the speed of light. Lock are efficiently unimpeded by the thick matter in the main point of key sequence stars. They bring away about 2% the the complete energy.

See more: Why The Standard Enthalpy Of Formation Of Oxygen Gas, Ideal Gas Enthalpy Of Oxygen (O2)

The external 30% that the sun is at lower temperature and also density than the within parts. Here, convection currents space responsible for transporting power to the surface. Deep cells, 30,000 km throughout are responsible for supergranulation. The cells just listed below the photosphere are only 1,000 km across and are responsible because that the granulation seen on the surface of the sun as in the image below.