Tuesday, December 11, 2007


A star is a massive, luminous ball of plasma. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth. Other stars are visible in the night sky, when they are not outshone by the Sun. A star shines because nuclear fusion in its core releases energy that traverses the star's interior and then radiates into outer space. Almost all elements heavier than hydrogen and helium were created inside the cores of stars.
Astronomers can determine the mass, age, chemical composition and many other properties of a star by observing its spectrum, luminosity and motion through space. The total mass of a star is the principal determinant in its evolution and eventual fate. Other characteristics of a star are determined by its evolutionary history, including the diameter, rotation, movement and temperature.