Comparing stars
Comparing stars

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Comparing stars

3.1.1 Stellar masses and stellar evolution

  • Measured stellar masses range from about 0.08M to about 50M, with stars of lower mass being more common.

  • Stars lose a rather small fraction of their masses during much of their lifetimes, but much larger fractions when they shed planetary nebulae, or when they undergo supernova explosions.

  • When stellar masses are placed on an H-R diagram, and coupled with observations of mass loss, we obtain important clues to stellar evolution, leading us to a plausible model of some of the stages, as follows:

    • after the main sequence phase the less massive stars become red giants, and the more massive stars become supergiants

    • red giants evolve to the point where they shed planetary nebulae, the stellar remnant evolving to become a white dwarf

    • supergiants end their lives as star-destroying Type II supernovae.

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