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Conduct a research study looking at the detailed history of the stars.

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Introduction

Mohini Yagnik

Page  of

‘TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR

HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE’

THE HISTORY OF THE STARS IN THE SKY

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TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR,

HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE.

UP ABOVE THE WORLD SO HIGH,

LIKE A DIAMOND IN THE SKY.

TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE STAR,

HOW I WONDER WHAT YOU ARE.

Aim: Conduct a research study looking at the detailed history of the stars.

Background Knowledge:

As we stare up into the sky, we see tranquil, bright lights twinkling gently at us. However, stars are actually exciting, dynamic objects in the Universe. Stars are great balls of burning gas – larger and hotter than one can ever imagine. During previous years of primary and secondary school, I have learnt a little about stars. For example, I know that the Sun is the Earth’s parent star. In the core of the Sun, nuclear reactions that involve hydrogen and helium take place. This creates huge amounts of energy, which is radiated as light and heat energy. The Sun sources almost all the light and heat energy on Earth – without it, the Earth would be a cold and desert place. I also know that stars give out light at all times. However, the intensity of the Sun’s light blocks out other stars during the day. This is not necessarily because the Sun is the most luminous star, but because it is closest to us. For example, a star called ‘Sirius’ is 26 times brighter than the Sun, but as it is so far away, it seems less bright. The stars make patterns known as constellations.

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Middle

Red Giant

The star is getting older, and the temperature continues increasing. The star expands as the force overcomes gravity. The surface begins to cool. The star is now a Red Giant.

White Dwarf

The star cools further, and finally collapses under its huge gravitational force. It turns into a White Dwarf. The matter is extremely thick, as the atoms are pressed so tightly together. Amazingly, the mass of one teaspoon of matter from a white dwarf is around five tonnes.

Supernova

If the mass of a star is extremely great, the star explodes as a Supernova. The stars lose their outer layers in this explosion.

Neutron Star or Black Hole

The gravitational forces are so strong that as the star collapses, the matter becomes compressed together. This is then called a Neutron star. Some neutron stars are called Black Holes, as they are so dense that not even the slightest bit of light may pass. The mass of one teaspoon of matter from a neutron star is around 500 million tonnes.    

Actually, the life of a star varies according to its mass. This means that the life of a small star and a much larger one would be quite different.

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THE LIFE OF A SMALL STAR

After the main sequence, a small star becomes a red giant. As it contracts and becomes increasingly hot, the star’s outer layers are lost and it is then a white dwarf. Millions of years later, all that is left is an invisible black dwarf.

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THE LIFE OF A MASSIVE STAR

After the main sequence, a massive star becomes a red supergiant.

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Conclusion

Evaluation

The topic of stars is just one tiny part of astronomy. There are so many other great things in the universe – planets, comets, moons, and so many other things. The population of the universe is forever increasing. Recently, a tenth planet has been discovered and named Sedna, after the Inuit goddess of the sea. It is two billion miles further from the sun than the ninth planet, Pluto and around 5.5 billion miles away from Earth. It is said that it would take a space shuttle around 45 Earth years to reach it. The nursery rhyme, ‘twinkle, twinkle, little star’, is a lovely tune but has no answer – in this piece of research, I have been able to find the best answer I could give. The Earth, other planets and stars including the sun will eventually end, leaving nothing but darkness.

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References:

1. Compton’s Interactive Encyclopaedia 2000

2. BBCi Space (bbc.co.uk/science/space)

3. Heinemann Physics for AQA Coordinated Award Student Book (Published 2001)

4. BBC – GCSE Bitesize – Physics – Earth and Beyond

5. Oxford Colour Dictionary (Published 1998)

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