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Topic 16 Astronomy Elective

Created by G.R. Marsden
Created
by
G.R.
Marsden
Topic 16 Astronomy Elective Created by G.R. Marsden Hubble Space Telescope (Courtesy of NASA)

Hubble Space Telescope (Courtesy of NASA)

1. “It is high. I cannot attain unto it.”

It is no coincidence that most of the world’s religions involved visits to mountain tops. Mankind’s fascination with the heavens reaches back to the dawn of prehistory. Our ancestors huddled for warmth and protection around the fire as they dozed through the long nights. The stars blazed down from above, burning into our consciousness, as the ancient story-teller spoke the old tribal legends that were vividly woven into the scene above. I will never forget a very rough trip north of Broken Hill one winter holiday with a busload of students. We stopped at midnight at Mutawintji where the “see” was magnificent and slept on the ground. The galaxy glowed with the sister-galaxy Magellanic clouds off to the side. The southern cross was threatened by a dark invader - the coal sack nebula.

Our Milky Way Galaxy showing our sister galaxies discovered by the evil Ferdinand Magellan

sister galaxies discovered by the evil Ferdinand Magellan More than any other science, astronomy interfaces with

More than any other science, astronomy interfaces with religion and the arts. It inspires science fiction writing and forms a backdrop for some of the best films of our time. David Malin, Australia’s fore- most astronomical photographer, attracts much attention in touring art exhibitions and his work is to be found in most astronomy books and on the internet (“Siding Springs”). He has just retired and should be a national treasure.

Astronomy asks the big questions about our place in the scheme of things. The quest is a noble one and the answers may well take the human race to the stars.

2. E.M.R. - our link to the universe

As the great Albert noted, there are two types of closely related stuff in our universe - matter and energy. Electromagnetic radiation is the “winged messenger” of events in the heavens. It has only one velocity - 300,000km/sec. It is produced by excited electrons or atomic nuclei and is one of the few things that can travel through the vacuum of space. Generally the more energetic the event, the higher the frequency of EMR produced.

All sorts of cosmic events can emit EMR:

There is the low energy background microwave radiation that is found all over the cosmos. Present theory assumes that it is left-over radiation from the extremely hot “big bang”.

Dust and gases, that form dark nebulae such as the “coal sack”, or bright nebulae such as the middle star in Orion’s “saucepan handle”, emit light and heat as they absorb energy from nearby stars.

Stars liberate intense gamma rays deep within their cores, but this rarely escapes. It heats the star so that the surface acts as a black body, radiating a range of energies including radio, light, heat and UV.

Then there are star explosions. These supernovae and novae emit gamma and X-rays as well as the other EMR’s. Super dense black holes and dense neutron stars (also called pulsars) accelerate any visiting gas causing them to emit all sorts of radiation including gamma and X rays.

Galactic centres are X-ray and gamma emitters and a believed to contain black holes. The centre of our galaxy is near Sagittarius.

Quasars were discovered in the 1960’s using radio telescopes. They were “quasi-stella radio sources”. These are the most powerful energy sources known. Some are extremely distant and can go 80% of the way back to the big bang. They are supergalactic in size and expel energy outwards from their nuclei in plasma jets. The jets are the radio emitters.

Perhaps we should revisit the electromagnetic spectrum from an astronomical perspective. This table need not be memorised. It shows how astronomy is moving into space. You may strike the term

“nanometre” (nm = 10 -9 )

(violet) to 700nm(red). Wavelengths are easily converted to frequencies using the formula c = fλ.

This is a wavelength unit commonly used for light and varies from 400nm

Radiation

Radio

Microwaves

Infra-red

Frequency

range (Hz)

10

4

- 10 9

10 8 - 10 12

10

10

- 10 14

Cosmic Sources

Astronomical “Telescope” (S = Space telescope)

Young stars, supernova

remnants, galaxy spiral arms Australian Tidbinbilla radio telescope Quasars

Australian Parkes radio telescope

Nebulae (gas clouds)

COBE (Cosmic background explorer)

(S 1989)

Found that space acted as a near perfect

2.7 o K black body for microwaves.

MAP (Microwave anisotrope probe)

(S June 2001)

Stars including small stars

SIRTF (NASA), ISO (Infrared Space Observer S 1995 - 98) Good for penetrating dust to observe comets and birth & death of stars.Liquid Helium cooled to avoid heat interference.

Visible

Ultra-violet

10

15

10 15 - 10 17

Astronomy Elective 16.3

Stars, galaxies, nebulae

Hot stars, black holes

Aust. 150” telescope (Siding Springs). Hubble space telescope

Hubble space telescope Endeavour Australian satellite flown on shuttle in march 1995. Imaged nearby stars and some galaxies in UV.

X-rays

Gamma -rays

10 15 - 10 25

10 17 - 10 32

Neutron stars, black holes

Black holes, galactic centre

Chandra X-ray space telescope 1999 specialises in nova remnants.

EGRET (Energetic Gamma Ray Experimental Telescope S 1991-2000)

This graph shows the altitude above sea level where the atmosphere becomes transparent for different frequencies of radiation:-

transparent for different frequencies of radiation:- Altitude in km (logarithmic scale) Frequency of Radiation

Altitude

in km

(logarithmic

scale)

Frequency of Radiation hitting the earth in Hz

It is obvious from this graph that there are three main windows for ground-based EMR observatories. These are optical (light), radio and the newly named “millimetre” zone between the radio and infra- red. The other frequencies require space telescopes.

You will notice also from the shape of the graph that the energetic radiations are completely absorbed as they ionise the ionosphere. For the lower energy radiations, there are narrow absorption bands. Atmospheric molecules are selective in the EMR frequencies that they absorb. Even in the visible, carbon dioxide and water vapour cause absorption lines. This is a further reason for siting telescopes above the clouds.

Set 16.1 Introduction to Astronomy

Question 1 is a review of what you should already know. 1. Define the following:-

a)

galaxy

b) dark nebula

c) bright nebula

d) black body

e) nova

f)

star

g) supernova

h) quasar

i) “background microwave radiation.

2a) State the two forms of EMR that our sun emits the most of as it approximates a black body emitter.

b) List energetic events in the sky that emit the nastiest forms of EMR - X-rays and γ- rays.

3. Use the graph on the previous page to answer the following :-

a) List the 3 windows in the electromagnetic spectrum where the EMR reaches the ground with the least hinderance.

b) List the regions of the electromagnetic spectrum that require space telescopes to image.

3. Resolution and Sensitivity of Telescopes

a) The Diffraction Problem

One of the more annoying properties of wavemotion for astronomers is that of diffraction. Diffraction is a property of waves where they bend around barriers and move into the shadow zone. When you are trying to use EMR to form a sharp image, diffraction causes interference patterns which cause blurring and reduce resolution.

Stars tend to act as point sources. Diffraction effects are often result of light passing through telescope apertures. The result is an interference pattern where the stars are surrounded by rings. In the top diagram, two stars are resolved (obviously different)

In the bottom diagram, the stars are closer than the limit of resolution of the telscope. The interference patterns merge and the stars appear as one.

Diffraction is a particular problem with:

appear as one. Diffraction is a particular problem with: • Cameras or telescopes with small openings

• Cameras or telescopes with small openings (apertures)

• Radiation with long wavelengths such as radio waves. This is why radio telescopes have a

larger limit of resolution than most optical telescopes. The early radio telescopes were little

better than the human eye in resolution.

b) Angular Resolution Defined

Astronomers measure the separation of stars in terms of angles. Those familiar with protractors will know that angles are measured in degrees. The degrees are further subdivided into minutes and seconds of an arc:

1 arc degree = 60 arc minutes

1 arc degree = 3600 arc seconds

If a radio telescope has a limit of resolution of 1 arc minute, this means that it can split two different stars one sixtieth of a degree apart. Optical telescopes have a much smaller limit of resolution than radio telescopes

c) Techniques for Improving Telescope Resolution

These include the following:

• Observe using shorter wavelength radiations to minimise diffraction. Light is better than radio waves.

• Use space telescopes or place your observatories on unpolluted mountain tops to minimise atmospheric refraction effects caused by air density changes.

• Use telescopes with large apertures to minimise diffraction.

• Use telescopes with big mirrors and lenses. These bend the EMR rays more forming a bigger image.

• Use computers to enhance the image.

d) Sensitivity Defined

The sensitivity of a telescope is its ability to collect and detect an EMR source in the heavens. An optical telescope has to be able to gather enough light to form an image that can be seen. A good optical reflecting telescope is wide like a light bucket to allow the maximum number of photons to bounce off the mirror to form an image. Sensitivity is further enhanced by carrying out very long exposure of photographic film. Astronomers no longer gaze through telescopes. They take pictures.

e) Improving Telescope Sensitivity

Using time exposure and extremely sensitive films to generate a better image than the eye could see. Use large diameter telescopes, mirrors and lenses to catch more photons from the source. The sensitivity of a reflecting telescope with an 8cm diameter mirror when compared to a dilated human eye pupil at night of diameter 4mm is in ratio to the two areas :

ie π x 0.04 2 / π x 0.002 2 = 400 times

f) Field of View of a Telescope

This is the area of sky that you see. Obviously low power binoculars have a broader field of view than an 8 inch telescope. Indeed with such big telescopes, you usually need a small side telescope to sight on the area of sky thet you want to observe.

4. The Atmosphere - our protector and hinderer

Modern astronomy began 400 years ago with Galileo’s telescope. Astronomers developed two types

of optical telescopes, refracting and reflecting. The human eye was the light sensor. In the 19th

century, they began to build them big. The Americans were worried about the Martians and the canals

that they dug on the red planet. Then came cameras that saw something a little different and were more sensitive, particularly when a long exposure was attemped. A big breakthrough came in the 1930’s with the development of radio telescopes. The other forms of EMR came later. Infortunately there is a problem with the atmosphere.

The atmosphere is turbulent with weather systems passing through. This causes the air to break up into atmospheric cells with different densities and refractive indices. The starlight is bent and scat- tered. The big observatories are mostly built on Mountain tops, such as the Hawaiian volcanoes where the “see” is better.

A bigger problem is that the atmospheric particles absorb much of the EMR hitting us from space.

Gamma, X-rays and the nastier UV frequencies are absorbed in the upper atmosphere, ionising it, and causing the ions to be very hot and energetic. In the process, we are saved from sterilisation and blindness. Most heat (infra-red) is absorbed by the earth and atmosphere at ground level. Only light

and radio frequencies penetrate with any efficiency. This means that optical and radio telescopes are the only telescopes that ground-hogging astronomers can use. To view the other frequencies, we need space telescopes. And we closed Woomera down in the 1950’s because it had no economic use. But

at least we allowed our ex-air force radar people to build some big radio telescopes and arrays.

Set 16.2 Resolution and Sensitivity

1. Define the following:-

a) diffraction

b) sensitivity

c) resolution

d) field of view

2. Outline methods for improving the:

a) resolution

b) sensitivity of a telescope.

improving the: a) resolution b) sensitivity of a telescope. 3. Contrast the resolutions of typical optical

3. Contrast the resolutions of typical optical and radio telescopes. Justify jour answer

a)

b)

Predict whether a UV telescope should have a better resolution than an optical telescope given similar film sensitivity.

c)

Describe how the atmosphere lowers the resolution of an optical telescope and outline how astronomers attempt to solve this problem.

4. We attempt to compare three telescopes as follows:-

Telescope 1

Uncle Bill’s 50x binoculars

Telescope 2

4” Newtonian reflector

Telescope 3

150” Australian telescope

Contrast these three instruments in terms of resolution, sensitivity and field of view.

5. The theoretical angular resolution of a telescope is given by :

θ

=

1.22 λ / D

where θ is in radians ( π radians = 180 o ) λ is the radiation wavelength D is the diameter of the collecting lens or mirror in metres

Calculate the angular resolution of the telescope in arc seconds of the 3.8m Aussie telescope at Siding Springs. Assume that the average wavelength of visible light observed is 550nm.

Solutions 16.1

1a) A galaxy is a group of 100 billion stars, usually in the shape of a rotating spiral. There are roughly the same number of galaxies in the universe as stars in a galaxy. The nearest galaxy to us is the An- dromeda galaxy in Pegasus constellation.

b) A dark nebula is a cloud of hydrogen and helium plus dust in space. These clouds block starlight

from behind so that they form dark patches in the sky. Examples include the coal sack nebula in Crux constellation.

c) A bright nebula is bright and coloured because it absorbs energy from hot nearby stars (often

forming within the nebula) and re-emits the energy usually as blue or red light.

d) A black body emits EMR that will plot on a black body curve. The peak of the curve depends on

the temperature of the surface of the black body. Most stars behave approximately as black bodies at the surface.

e) A nova is an event where an average sized sun explodes after its nuclear fuel is expended.

f) A star is a sun which derives its energy from the fusion, mostly of hydrogen.

g) A supernova is an event where a giant sun explodes after its nuclear fuel is expended.

h) Quasars are the most energetic and distant objects known to man.They seem to be “supergalaxies”

that formed a long time ago.Their light is much red-shifted. i) Microwaves were first detected by a specialised telescope in America. They appeared to be coming from all over the sky, although the emission is “lumpy”. The COBE (Cosmic background explorer) Satellite of 1989 found that the whole of space acted as a near perfect 2.7 o K black body for micro-

waves. This radiation is believed to be the degraded EMR left over from the period just after the “big bang” when the whole universe was super-hot. Much of this energy was converted to matter. 2a) Light and infra-red (heat)

b) The destruction of matter as it falls into neutron stars or black holes. There is an X-ray source at

the centre of our galaxy near Sagittarius.

3a) Light, radio and “millimeter” waves (between the radio and infra-red)

b) Gamma, X-ray, UV and infra-red.

4. Galileo’s Telescope

“In my confusion and uncertainty, my mind jumps from one object of nature to the next. I cannot put my restless mind at ease, no matter how hard I try. Sleep has become impossible for me in this Preoccupied state.” Galileo in a letter

1638.

me in this Preoccupied state.” Galileo in a letter 1638. Scientists are often driven men, being

Scientists are often driven men, being blessed with the beauty and curse of intelligence. So it was with this argumentative and extremely talented red- haired northern Italian. Galileo was profoundly interested in nearly everything and possessed a genius for mathematics and instrument making. Galileo questioned everything, a dangerous practice in an age of conformity. He dared to question the Aristo- telian view of the universe. Everything was supposed to fall with constant speed. The moon and sun were perfect spheres and the universe revolved around the earth. He led a productive life, laying the foundation on which Newton built, and met his end as a sick and grumpy old man under house arrest for his heresy, his banned books being greatly popular.

His interest in astronomy began with the appearance of a new star (nova event) in the sky in 1604. Several years later, he received news that a Dutchman had made a telescope. He began to grind lenses and built several instruments himself. They were narrow thin refracting telescopes. The first magnified by a factor of three.

“Finally sparing neither labour nor expense, I succeeded in constructing for myself so excellent an instrument that objects

appeared

one

thousand times

an instrument that objects appeared one thousand times My sketch of one of Galileo’s refracting telescopes

My sketch of one of Galileo’s refracting telescopes

first I saw the moon as if it were scarcely two terrestrial radii away ”

He set about making careful drawings and observations:

the “

philosophers believe it (and other heavenly bodies) to be, but is uneven, rough, and full of cavities and prominences, being not unlike the face of the earth, relieved by chains of valleys and deep valleys.”

surface of the moon is not smooth, uniform, and precisely spherical as a great number of

Galileo’s lunar drawings are to be found in his book of 1610 titled “Sidereus Nuncius (The Celestial Messenger). He pays particular attention to the craters, the “seas” and the terminator line. Cleverly, he used the shadows at the terminator to estimate the height of the lunar mountains. His result was remarkably accurate at 6km.

Galileo was to champion the view of Polish Canon Nicolaus Copernicus - that the earth orbits the

sun. The moon and planets were not perfect spheres, but earth-like

the sun, had spots and the spots rotated with the rotation of the sun. Venus had phases like the moon.

Jupiter had four moons. Galileo observed them with great diligence. The Jupiter/moon system was like a miniature model for his solar system.

The “perfect” celestial object,

Set 16.3 Galileo’s Telescope

Galileo was taught that the universe consisted of a central earth with the heavenly objects orbiting around it. The sphere was revered. The sun and moon were such perfect spheres and the secrets of their orbits lay in a “music of the spheres”.

Outline how Galileo used his telescope to pour scorn on these previous dogmas by observing:-

a) the moon

b) more distant objects within the solar system.

Solutions 16.2

1a) Diffraction is a property of EMR where it can bend around barriers suchh as buildings or spread

out through slits. It produces interference patterns and stops shadows being total absence of light.

b) Sensitivity is the ability of a telescope to collect radiation from a heavenly object and form an

image.

c) The resolution of a telescope is the minimum angular separation in the sky where you can see thst

two stars are indeed separate objects.

d) The field of view is the angular area of sky visible in the telescope.

2a) See page 16.6 3c b) See page 16.6 3e

3a) The optical telescope has higher resolution because light rays have lower wavelength than radio waves. Diffraction problems become nasty when the radaition wavelength is the same order of magni- tude as the telescope aperture (opening).

b) UV should have higher resolution as it has a shorter wavelength than light.

c) Pressure changes in the atmosphere create prisms of air withh different densities. Light refracts at

the interface between prisms, distorting the image. 4. For resolution and sensitivity 3>2>1. For field of view 1>2>3

5.

λ

=

5.5 x 10 -7 m

θ

=

?

D

=

3.8m

θ

=

1.22 λ / D

 
 

=

1.22 x 5.5 x 10 -7 rads

 

3.8

 

=

1.22 x 5.5 x 10 -7 x 180 degrees

 
 

3.8

x π

 

=

1.22 x 5.5 x 10 -7 x 180 x 3600 arc secs

 
 

3.8

x π

 

=

0.036 arc secs.

 

Solutions 16.3

a) Galileo noted with some glee that the ancient philosphers were wrong about the moon being

perfectly spherical. He compared it to the earth, noting that it was uneven, rough and full of blem- ishes, ridges and valleys. He focused on the terminator line and used the shadows to estimate the heights of mountains on the moon with accuracy.

b) Galileo noted that:

(i) the sun rotated and exhibited sun spots (ii) venus had phases (iii) Jupiter had four moons which he carefully drew from night to night.

5. Building Better Ground-Based Telescopes

a) The Technique of Adaptive Optics

We have already noted the refraction effects on starlight rays caused by atmospheric pressure and density variations in air cells above the telescope. The different density cells can vary from metres to kilometres across and bend the light in a moving pattern that causes stars to twinkle.

The image is defocused. The limit of resolution increases and the “see” deteriorates.

Adaptive optics is a high-technology solution to the problem. High speed cameras and computers continually sample the light from reference stars, looking for distortions. Signals are then sent to a

flexible collecting mirror to make tiny adjustments to its position. The adjustments may be as little as

10 -8 m but can improve the resolutions of ground based telescopes to fractions of an arc second.

b) The Technique of Interferometry

Interferometry is one technique for improving the resolution of telescopes

Whilst the sensitivity of an optical telescope depends on the collecting area of the telescope mirror, the resolution depends on the telescope diameter. Hence it is possible to improve the resolving power of telescopes by linking them together. The technique of linking telescopes is called interferometry because the result is not a perfect telescope image, but an interference pattern.

(i) Optical telescope interferometry

Because of the low wavelength of light, and engineering difficulties, there are problems in linking ground based optical telescopes to form interferometers. It is usually done with two telescopes in the one observatory.

Imagine two telscopes following a distant star and moving as the earth rotates. Light from the star hits one telescope before the other. There is a path difference and a phase difference between the two light rays. These two rays are combined when the telescopes are linked forming an interference pattern. This pattern changes as the spinning earth platform moves.

In spite of the problems, the resolution for two telescopes is greater than for a single device. Optical interferometers are used to estimate distances to, and sometimes diameters of, close stars such as the famous red giants Betelgeuse and Antares.

(ii) Radio telescope interferometry

The largest radio telescopes in the world are parabolic antennas about 100m in diameter. They can resolve radio emitters in the sky about one arc minute apart (1/60 degree). This is not very good and is equivalent to what the human eye can do with light.

To obtain higher resolutions, arrays of antennae are used in a technique called interferometry. The world’s largest interferometer is the Very Large Array in New Mexico. This contains 27 parabolic 25m dishes located along the three 21km arms of a figure Y. Each dish has its own receiver. The signals are processed in a central building. The final radio image has a resolution of one arc second (1/3600 degree).

Very long baseline interferometry uses atomic clocks to link and synchronise radio telescopes between continents. This further reduces the resolution by a factor of 5. Eventually we will link radio telescopes in space.

The twin Kek telescopes sit 3km high on an Hawaiian volcano. They are 10m telescopes,

The twin Kek telescopes sit 3km high on an Hawaiian volcano. They are 10m telescopes, each a composite of 36 2m mirrors. They use adaptive optics and can be linked to form an interferometer.

Interferometry is the future of radio astronomy and requires Australian radio astronomers to form networks with their overseas colleagues.

c) New Generation Optical Telescopes

Technology improves all the time. Most attention is now focused on the light collecting mirrors which in the first mega-telescopes were 1 metre thick, 5

metres wide and weighed over ten tonnes. The monsters had to move with the sky as it rotated, and to be kept rigidly in shape by a strong supporting framework. This was a big expensive ask.

New telescopes with honeycombed backs have been cast with lightweight supports. They are half as massive as the early ones such as the American Mount Palomar 200 inch.

The New Kek telescopes sitting on the tip of the Hawaiian volcanic complex are of interest. Each of the 10m telescopes are a composite of 36 two metre mirrors coordinated by computer to form a single mirror. The two telescopes can be linked to form an optical interferometer. Adaptive optics are used to tune the shape of each mirror component to form the best image.

☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.4 Modern Terestrial Telescopes 1.Outline the problem that “adaptive optics” seeks to solve.
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.4 Modern Terestrial Telescopes
1.Outline the problem that “adaptive optics” seeks to solve.
2. Describe the technique of “adaptive optics”
3. Outline the theory and technique of interferometry.
4. Contrast its effectiveness as a technique for improving resolution in
optical and radio telescopes.
5. Name an example of a “new generation optical telescope” and outline
improvements in its technology.

6. Measuring Distances to Stars

The visible stars in the good old Aussie sky are all part of our own galaxy, the Milky Way. Early astronomers, such as Galileo, had no way of estimating the distances to these stars. Eventually it was discovered that very close stars, such as Alpha Centauri, wobble slightly when observed against the distant star haze of the galaxy over a period of 6 months. The wobble is very slight, usually a few seconds of an arc of the sky. Such wobbles are called annual stellar parallax and are measured by superimposing photos of the close star taken 6 months apart.

It was realised that the parallax was caused by the earth moving, not the “close” star. Simple geom-

etry used the earth’s orbit as a baseline to measure the distance to our close star neighbours These distances are huge. Out went our tiny kilometres. In came big units - astronomical units (A.U.) for measuring planet distances in our solar system, and for distant stars - light years and parsecs. The parsec is the most used and the light year is the most famous.

a) The Astronomical Unit (A.U.)

The Astronomical Unit is the average radius of the Earth’s orbit around our Sun.

1 A.U. =

1.5 x 10 11 metres

This is a useful unit when calculating the orbits for planets around the sun and for suns which orbit each other. In astronomical terms, it is still a pretty small unit. The parsec is 206,000 times bigger.

b) The light-year

A light-year, as most student know, is the distance that light travels in one year. To convert a light-

year to metres, you multiply the speed of light by the number of seconds in a year

d

=

vt

=

ct

=

3 x 10 8 x 365.25 x 24 x 60 x 60 metres

=

9.47 x 10 15 metres

Most astronomy books quote star distances in light years, but the easiest distance for astonomers to calculate directly from the photos that they take, is the parsec (pc). The distance in parsecs is calculated using a simple formula from the annual stellar parallax for the star.

c) Annual Stellar Parallax θθθθθ

Astronomers continually photograph sections of the sky in their quest for unusual objects or star movements. Most of the stars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, are very distant. After all, the galaxy is 100,000 light years across. The distant stars do not appear to move.

Because of this, these “fixed stars” provide a background reference point. Photographs can be taken

at different times of the year and the negatives superimposed on each other. It turns out that stars

which are quite close to us appear to move against the background of distant stars.

These diagrams are negative plates of a small section of the sky taken through a telescope three months apart. One of the prominent stars has moved. (Can you find another ?) The movement is caused by the fact that the earth is moving in its (almost) circular orbit around the sun.

is moving in its (almost) circular orbit around the sun. The earth takes 12 months to
is moving in its (almost) circular orbit around the sun. The earth takes 12 months to

The earth takes 12 months to orbit the sun. After just 3 months, it has moved sideways a distance equal to the radius of the earth’s orbit (1AU = 150 million km). Because of this movement, the position of the close star appears to move from A to B below against the background of fixed stars. Over a 12 month period, most near stars will trace out an ellipse (or a perfect circle if they are perpendicular in position to the earth's ecliptic plane of rotation about the sun).

A Distant stars Lines of sight θ B Near Star Earth A
A
Distant stars
Lines of sight
θ
B
Near Star
Earth
A

B

The annual parallax of a star is the angle of star shift when the earth has moved sideways by a distance equal to its orbit radius 1AU.

This movement θ is not a distance but a very small angle of sky measured in arc seconds ( “ )

With angles

1 o = 60 minutes ( ‘ )

1'

= 60 secs ( “ )

1 Arc sec = 1/3600 degree

Note on Annual Parallax Annual parallax is a very small change in angle. It was not until last century that it was first measured using powerful telescopes and the new-fangled photographic plates. Even for the closest star, Alpha Centauri, 4.2 light years away, the annual parallax of 0.76 seconds of an arc is equivalent to the angular size of a coin held at a distance of more than a kilometer.

d)

The Parsec (pc)

If the annual stellar parallax, θθθθθ , is exactly one second of an arc, then the star is exactly one parsec away. Learn this formula :-

N.B.

Distance to star in parsecs

=

1 parsec

= 3.26 light-years

1

parallax θ in arc seconds

eg. The closest visible star to us is the double star Alpha Centauri . These two suns have an annual parallax of 0.76 arc seconds. What is the distance to Alpha Centauri ?

Distance to star in parsecs

=

1

parallax θ in arc seconds

=

1

0.76

= 1.32 parsec (4.3 light-years away)

e) Limitations of using parallax to measure stellar distances

At present the closest star to us is the faint red star Proxima Centauri, which orbits its sister stars Alpha and Beta Centauri in a three sun system. Proxima is 4.2 light years away and its parallax is just 0.77 arc seconds, a very small angle. The problem is that the baseline earth orbit for measuring stellar distances is just 300,000km long.

Earth-based parallax measurements allow us to do distance calculations for stars out to 100 Parsecs (326 light years) away.

f) The Hipparcos (High precision parallax collecting satellite)

In 1989, the European Space Agency (E.S.A) launched the world’s first astrometric satellite named after an early Greek Pioneering astronomer, Hipparcos, who in 129BC catalogued 1080 visible stars in the heavens and assigned them magnitude (or brightness) numbers from 1 to 6.

The advantage of using a satellite, above the atmosphere, was to eliminate refraction effects allowing more precise measurements of star positions. It extends our measurement of star distances out to 500 Parsecs taking in the nearest 100,000 stars in our 100 billion star galaxy.

Set 16.5 The Method of Annual Parallax

1a) Define the “astronomical unit” (A.U.). b) Outline reasons why astronomers prefer to use “parsecs” or the older “light years” as a distance measurer.

2a) Define the term “annual parallax” and state its unit.

b) Outline the method that we use to measure the distance to a close star in:- (i) parsecs

(ii) light years c) Discuss the limitations of using parallax as a distance measuring technique.

d) Identify a modern astrometric satellite and outline the mission, advantages and limitations of such a satellite.

3. Quantify the distances in parsecs and light years to stars with annual parallaxes of :-

a) 0.10 arc second

b) 0.43 arc seconds

c) 0.5 arc minutes.

4. Calculate the annual parallaxes of stars:-

a) 4.3 light years away.

b) 200 light years away

c) 100 parsecs away (limit terestrial measurements)

d) 500 parsecs away (limit Hipparcos)

Solutions 16.4

1. The problem that adaptive optics seeks to solve is the effect of atmospheric distortion on telescope

resolution. This distortion is caused by the movement of atmospheric cells with slightly different densities above the telescope. These cause starlight refraction at the cell boundaries.

2. Adaptive optics is a technique where high speed cameras and computers continually sample

starlight coming through the atmosphere from a known reference star. Fine adjustments are made automatically to a flexible mirror system to counter the distortion providing better telescope resolution.

3. The resolution of a telescope depends on its diameter. Interferometry links telescopes to produce

this greater diameter. It is a more effective technique for radio telescopes because of interference effects with the lower wavelength optical telescopes.

4. There is a path difference for the two EMR signals being received by the two linked telescopes.

This produces an interference pattern when the two signals are combined. The pattern changes with the rotation of the earth. Light has a much smaller wavelength than radio waves. The interference effects for light are much more extreme and effectively limits linked optical telescopes to the one observatory site. With radio telescopes, interferometry greatly reduces the limit of resolution. Large distances between radio telescopes are routine, particularly when atomic clocks are used.

5. The new generation Hawaiian Kek telescopes are “state of the art”. Instead of using one big

monster mirror that would be extremaely difficult to move and maintain shape, the 10 metre diameter mirror for each is attained by using a composite pattern of 27 two metre mirrors adjusted constantly using adaptive optics. The Keks can also be linked forming interferometers. Good stuff Yanks!

Solutions 16.5

1a) The A.U. is the mean distance of the earth from sol and is approx 150 million km. b) The nearest star is nearly 300,000 A.U. away. To avoid astronomical writers cramp, when stating stellar distances, a bigger unit is needed.

2a) The annual stellar parallax is the angle of apparent star shift, against a background of distant stars, when the earth has moved sideways by a distance equal to its orbital radius (1 A.U.) If you think about it, this movement should take 6 months. b(i) Distance in parsecs = 1/θ where θ is in arc seconds. (ii) distance in light years = 3.26 x distance in parsecs.

c) The problem with stellar parallax is that it is a method of triangulation where one side of the

triangle is usually more then 300,000 times another side. This makes the parallax a very small angle.

This limits accurate distance estimates for stars to our nearest neighbours less than 100 parsecs away.

d) Hipparcos is an astrometric satellite. Its mission is to measure the annual parallax to stars with

greater accuracy. The advantage is that the satellite image is not distorted by atmospheric bending of light. The limitation is that the baseline for the triangulation is still small although it has extended our

measurements to suns 500 parsecs away (numbering 100,000 suns out of a galaxy of 100 billion). 3a) 10 parsecs; 32.6 light years b) 2.3 parsecs; 7.6 light years c)0.033 parsecs; 0.11 light years (there are no stars this close) 4a) 0.76 arc secs (alpha centauri) b) 0.163 arc secs c) 0.01 arc secs d) 0.002 arc secs.

7. Spectroscopy and Astronomy

Newton was the first to produce a spectrum when he passed a ray of white sunlight through a triangular prism. At the time he was hiding in his country home whilst the black plague stalked England.

Dispersion Incident white light ray Red Orange Yellow Green Triangular Prism Blue
Dispersion
Incident
white light
ray
Red
Orange
Yellow
Green
Triangular Prism
Blue

Violet

The trick of the prism lies in the fact that different colour bands of light have slightly different refractive indices. So the red light in the white beam bends less than the violet light.

A spectroscope is a more modern device designed to do the same thing as a prism. It spreads out (disperses) light into its various frequencies. A spectrograph records the image which is called a spectrogram and is usually in the form of a photograph.

There are two modern designs for spectroscopes. One uses as its core a triangular prism similar to the above. The other uses a diffraction grating. Both designs can use a slit plus collimator lens to make the light hit the prism in parallel rays and a telescope to see an enlarged image of the spectrum. Collimators are useful for looking at glowing laboratory gas discharge tubes, but are often not necessary for more distant starlight where the incoming light rays are almost parallel.

The less commonly used prism spectroscope is shown on the next page. The collimator is not included but consists of a slit plus focusing lens. Dispersion of light into a rainbow occurs twice, with refraction (bending of light) at two prism faces. Each frequency bends at different angles of refraction to the others. The eyepiece on the telescope can be rotaated to allow wavelength measurements. Some schools have this device and can be converted to the next form of spectroscope by replacing

the prism with a more colourful diffraction grating.

Prism Spectrometer Collimator inserted here (if needed) Spectrum seen larger Prism on stage Telescope
Prism Spectrometer
Collimator inserted
here (if needed)
Spectrum seen larger
Prism on stage
Telescope

Starlight

For diffraction grating spectrometers, the prism is replaced by either a reflection or transmission grating

Diffraction gratings contain thousands of lines ruled very close together. Each line acts as a light source. Without going too deeply into the physics, the grating produces an interference pattern which contains a number of spectra. CD Roms also have rainbow producing fine lines. It adds to their popular appeal.

Diffraction gratings are the technology of choice in spectroscopes. There are two types. Reflection diffraction gratings reflect an interference pattern towards the observer. Transmission diffraction gratings let the light through, sending an interference pattern towards the telescope.

a) Astronomers pass starlight through spectroscopes

There are a number of things that you can learn by passing the light from a heavenly object through a spectroscope. Individual black or white spectral lines can be used to identify chemicals in the atmo- sphere of a star (called the star corona) or in a gas cloud (nebula). Star spectra can be used to deter- mine the surface temperature of the star. The red shift of fast-receding distant galaxies can be used to determine their speed relative to the earth as space expands.

b) Neils Bohr explains how atoms emit and absorb light

When you shine white light through an element gas such as hydrogen, the hydrogen electron captures and absorbs into itself some only of the light photon frequencies as it jumps to higher energy levels. The result is an absorption spectrum with black lines on a rainbow background.

The reverse happens when hot or energetic hydrogen atoms need to dump energy. The hydrogen glows as the electron jumps down again. The emission spectrum produced, shown on the next page, has coloured lines on a black background. The line positions are the same as for the absorption spectrum.The red line is formed when an electron jumps from the 3rd to the 2nd energy level. The blue line is formed by a transition from the 4th to the 2nd level. The coloured light wavelengths are as shown. That spectrum is very relevent to astronomers. The hydrogen could be in a star or nebula.

Line emission spectrum for hydrogen

violet

 

blue

red

389 410

434

486

 

656

Wavelength in nm

The absorption spectrum for starlight passing through hydrogen consists of a rainbow with black lines in the same positions as the coloured lines above.

c) Classification of Spectra

(i) Continuous spectra. Most stars emit a broad range of wavelengths. Through a spectroscope, the starlight forms a continuous rainbow. The wavelengths, when graphed against intensity, form a blackbody curve. The peak of the curve determines the colour and temperature of the sun. A red sun is cool with little blue, if at all, in its rainbow.

Galaxies also exhibit continuous spectra containing light, infrared and radio waves. Very distant galaxies will have red-shifted rainbows.

(ii) Line Emission Spectra Spectra of bright nebula (gas clouds) consist of narrow bright lines on a black background. These lines are produced when starlight shines on element atoms in the nebula. Electrons jump to higher energy levels as they absorb energy (usually from a sun being born in the nebula). When feeling too energetic, the electrons drop to a lower state emitting a fixed frequency for each jump. Emission spectra are a fingerprint for elements and molecules within the nebula. Hydrogen lines are always prominent as this was the most common gas formed after the “Big Bang”. Helium is also prominent.

(iii) Absorption Spectra When distant starlight passes through a dark gaseous nebula, some frequencies are absorbed to excite electrons in the gas atoms. The result is a continuous rainbow spectrum containing dark absorption lines. We use these lines to analyse for elements and compounds in the dark nebula. Their position wavelengths are exactly the same as for emission lines.

Stars such as our sun have black absorption lines in their spectra. Our sun’s absorption lines are called Fraunhofer lines after the discoverer. These black lines are produced when the starlight passes through the sun’s cooler outer atmosphere. They are usually narrow. If they are broad, the sun’s atmosphere is cool and molecules are present.

Helium was detected for the very first time by a Vatican astronomer who detected it, not on earth, but in the sun’s atmosphere (corona) whilst observing a solar eclipse.The element was named after “helios” the sun.

d) Stellar (star) Spectra and their use in Classifying Stars

By now you probably know that stars are classified using one of the letters OBAFGKM, followed by a number which subdivides these sun groups further. Most astronomy books include somewhere the request - “Oh be a fine girl kiss me.” It must get very lonely peering through a telescope on a mountain peak on cold nights, so if you are feeling lonely girls, take up astronomy.

The answer to the astronomer’s lament is RNS ( “Right now sweetheart”.) These are the code letters for the next set of cooler black infrared stars to the right of the H-R diagram.

Star Spectral Types Blue Blue-white White Yellow-white O B A F Yellow Orange Red G
Star Spectral Types
Blue
Blue-white
White
Yellow-white
O
B
A
F
Yellow
Orange
Red
G
K
M

The reason for these letters is lost in history, but they are based on star absorption lines and reflect the star’s chemical composition. Hot stars have ions of H and He, whilst cool stars have the broad dark absorption lines indicative of molecules in the sun’s outer layers.

Visible Star Spectral Classification

Spectral

Colour

Surface temp

Spectrum

Colour

Mass (Sun = 1)

class

(K)

peculiarities

Index

O

Blue

>30,000

Few H and He absorption lines Stronger H lines. Some He lines Intense H lines Strong H lines, some metal lines Numerous metal lines, Ca & Fe

-0.4

30

B

Blue-white

30,000-11,000

-0.2

8

A

White

11,000-8,000

+0.1

2.5

F

Yellow-white

8,000-6,000

+0.4

1.4

G

Yellow

6,000-4,800

+0.7

1.0

K

Orange

4,800-3,500

Num. metal lines, some molecules +1.2

0.7

M

Red

<3,500

Dark molecule bands incl. TiO 2

+1.7

0.3

Set 16.6 Stellar Spectra

1. Classify spectra into groups and distinguish between them 2. Identify the types of spectra produced by:

a) stars b) bright nebulae c) Galaxies d) Quasars (the most energetic long distance objects in the universe) e) Gas discharge tubes

3. Describe the most commonly used technology for producing a spectrum from starlight.

4. Contrast the spectra produced by a:-

a) hot blue sun

b) cool red sun

c) bright nebula such as the Great Nebula in Orion

5. Clarify this statement:- “ The A1 star Sirius contains a lot of prominent hydrogen lines.”

6. Contrast a type B star with a type K star in terms of composition and colour.

7. Interpret the significance of the presence of broad dark absorption bands in the spectrum of the red

giant star Betelgeuse.

8. The Cepheid variable star Omega Sagittarii changes from an A9 star to a G1 star and back with a

period of 7.5 days. Deduce from this the visible changes that are occurring in the star.

d) Deducing Information using Stellar (star) Spectra

We have already learned that the spectra and colour of a star can provide us with valuable information about :-

Chemical Composition - using absorption spectral lines. Surface Temperature - using the peak of the star’s black body curve We can also deduce the following :- Star Density Dense stars include white dwarfs which are formed when gravity collapses the remnant of a nova event. Such stars emit broader emission lines than main sequence suns. The broadening of the emission lines is caused by the attraction of nearby plasma charged particles for the electron energy levels of the particles emistting the radiation. Star Velocity relative to the Earth Any star moving away from us at high speed will have its whole continuous spectrum shifted towards the red. The red shift is a velocity measurer. Distant quasars seen far back in time are the most red shifted. Galaxies, being a minimum of 2 million light years away, sitting in an expanding universe come next in shift. Rate of Star Rotation Galileo was the first to see sun spots moving around the sun and realised that the sun was spinning. When this happens, one side of the sun moves away from us and its light is red shifted. The other side moves towards us and the light is blue shifted. The overall effect on spectral lines such as hydrogen is to broaden the width of the lines slightly. The fatter the lines, the faster the rotation.

e) The Stefan- Boltzmann Equation and The Relation Between Stellar

Radius and Surface Temperature

The Stefan equation applies to all hot bodies. It says that the energy emitted by a hot object is propor- tional to the fourth power of the surface temperature. By considering stars as spheres, we can derive another relationship :-

R 2 R L / 4π 2 T 4 where R is star radius, L is luminosity, T is absolute temperature. The formula can be used to estimate stellar radii, given the stellar brightness and surface temperatures which can more easily be measured.

f) Surface Temperature of Suns and Black Body Curves

Black body graphs of radiation against wavelength show a peak which reflects the star surface temperature. There is a whole family of black body curves. The higher the “mountain” on the graph, the hotter the surface temperature of the sun and the more the surface colour migrates towards the violet end of the visible spectrum.

migrates towards the violet end of the visible spectrum. Perfect Black Body Curves showing the Distribution

Perfect Black Body Curves showing the Distribution of Energies emitted by Black objects at Different Temperatures

☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.7 Some Inferences from Stellar Spectra 6000 K Energy 1. A stellar spectrum
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.7 Some Inferences from Stellar Spectra
6000
K
Energy
1.
A stellar spectrum contains H, He and numerous metal lines. It is yellow in colour and has no wide
Emitted
black absorption bands.
a)
Identify its spectral class
5000 K
b)
c)
State its colour
Interpret the lack of wide black absorption bands in terms of its chemical composition.
4000 K
2.
At the heart of a nebula lies a white dwarf.
a)
Describe how this peculiar star formed.
3000
K
b)
Outline the unusual features of a white dwarf.
0
2
4
6
8
10
12
14
16
18
20
c)
Predict anomalies in its line emission spectrum compared with a normal-sized type A star.
UV
Visible
Infra Red
3.
In general terms, state the relationship between star radius and luminosity
-7
Wavelength of EMR emitted X 10

Astronomy Elective 16.21

Solutions 16.6

1. Spectra are described as continuous, line emission and absorption. Continuous spectra include most

frequencies and are rainbows. Line emission spectra contain thin bright lines on a black background.

Absorption spectra contain continuous spectra interrupted by narrow or broad dark bands. 2a) Continuous with some absorption lines b) Line emission (mostly H) c) Continuous d) Continuous but strongly red shifted e) Line emission.

3. The most used technology is the diffraction spectroscope. This shines starlight through (or reflects

it off) a diffraction grating which produces a spectrum as part of an interference pattern. A telescope

enlarges the image and allows us to measure spectral line wavelengths. 4a) Strong dark lines of ionised He plus O,N,C against a continuous background spectrum.

b)

Broad absorption bands of TiO 2 against a continuous background spectrum where red dominates.

c)

Line emission spectrum rich in H and He lines.

5.

Its spectrum is a line emission spectrum. Each element has lines which only it can emit. The pres-

ence of strong lines specific to hydrogen indicates the presence of this element. This is to be expected in a young, fast fusing white sun.

6. Type B is rich in He and coloured blue-white. Type K is orange, cool and contains some molecules

in its outer layers.

7. This tells you that molecules are present and that the giant star is cool at the surface.

8. The star is expanding and contracting as its nuclear reactions become unstable. The star is changing

from white to yellow, cooling and contracting in the process.

Solutions 16.7 1a) G b) yellow c) Such bands indicate the presence of molecules in the sun’s outer layer. The lack of broad dark bands indicates that the sun is too hot for molecules to form. 2a) A red giant exploded, blowing away most of the outside of the star. The core remnant is still hot, but fusion has ceased and the star is contracting under the force of gravity. So the white dwarf is dense.

b)

Fusion has stopped and they are small dense cooling stars.

c)

The dense plasma produces particle interactions which thicken the line emission bands.

3.

Radius increases with luminosity.

8. Photometry and the Brightness of Stars

a) Star Brightness and Star Luminosity

The Intrinsic Luminosity of a star (L) is a measure of the rate at which a star emits energy. It is effectively “star power”.

Star Brightness (I) is a measure of the intensity of the star’s radiation as seen from earth. Star brightness depends on the intrinsic luminosity L and the star distance d by this formula which is derived from the inverse square law:

I

L 4πd 2 No quantitative work is expected using this formula.

=

b) Measuring Apparent Magnitude m for Stars

(We will use the symbols Brightness I and magnitude m)

When we look up into the sky we see that some stars are bright and others are dim. When we attempt to compare the brightness of stars, we are comparing their apparent mag- nitudes. The apparent magnitudes are the star magnitude numbers which you see listed in star guides.

The apparent magnitude of a star as seen from earth de- pends on the distance from earth to the star as well as its absolute magnitude, which is the brightness of the star if we were close to it.

Starlight, starbright What Magnitude m are you tonight ?

Starlight, starbright What Magnitude m are you tonight ?

The early Greek astronomer Hipparchus, in 129 BC put together a brightness scale which used the numbers 1 to 6. He published a list of 1080 stars, together with their

magnitudes. Really bright stars such as the Dog Star, Sirius

A, had an apparent magnitude of 1, and stars that could

barely be seen were given an apparent magnitude of 6. Bright stars have low numbers and dim stars high numbers.

1.

2. 3. 4. 6. 5. Star Magnitudes
2.
3.
4.
6.
5.
Star Magnitudes

The old scale was from 1-6 Bright stars have low numbers

The old scale was from 1-6 Bright stars have low numbers In 1856, the English astronomer

In 1856, the English astronomer Norman Pogson attempted to modernise the scale. After all, we can use

lightmeters to measure brightness accurately in proper energy units. He wanted a scale based on a math- ematical formula which produced numbers similar to the old scale but with more accuracy. According to

this scale, a star of magnitude 1.00 is exactly 100 times brighter than a star of magnitude 6.00. This means that a difference of 5 magnitude points (6-1) produces a brightness ratio of 100.

This modern scale is not limited to the numbers 1-6. Our sun has an apparent magnitude of -26.8. The brightest star Sirius has an apparent magnitude of -1.46. We can see stars through powerful telescopes with apparent magnitudes greater than 24. These are very dim stars.

A 1st magnitude star is defined to be 100 times brighter than a 6th magnitude star

As star faintness increases, the magnitude increases

A difference of one star magnitude corresponds to a brightness difference of the 5th root of 100 or 2.512

This table illustrates how an increase in one star magnitude produces an increase in light intensity of roughly 2.5.

Difference in star magnitude m 2 - m 1

Ratio of brightness I 1 / I 2

0

1

1

2.5

2

6.3

3

16

4

40

5

100

6

250

We can now use this magic number 2.512 to invent a formula to compare the brightnesses of stars.

Let stars 1 and 2 have apparent magnitudes of m 1 and m 2 and brightnesses of I 1 and I 2 . Then :-

I

I 2

1

=

(m 2 - m 1 )

2.512

No units are used

How on earth did you get this you say ? Well the second column I 1 / I 2 numbers go up by multiples of

2.512.

Examples eg 1. Star A has an absolute magnitude of 3.2. Star B is 5.2. How many times brighter than B is A ?

So

m 2 - m 1

= 5.2 - 3.2

= 2

I

— = 2.512 2

I 2

1

= 2.512 x 2.512

= 6.3 approx

eg 2. Star A has an absolute magnitude of 2.3. Star B is 5.7. How many times brighter than B is A ?

So

m 2 - m 1

= 5.7 - 2.3

= 3.4

I

— = 2.512 3.4

I 2

1

We use our calculator. Enter 2.512. Hit x y . Type 3.4 then hit equals

= 22.9 approx

☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.8 Star Brightness 1. Identify the two factors effect the magnitude of a
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.8
Star Brightness
1. Identify the two factors effect the magnitude of a star as seen from earth ?
2. The star Belzebub has a magnitude of 2 when seen from earth. The star Oldenick has a
magnitude of 4 when seen from the earth. How much brighter in terms of light intensity is Oldenick
over Belzebub?
3. Star A has an apparent magnitude of 4.7 whilst Star B has an apparent magnitude of 7.7. How
much brighter than B is A ?
4. The red supergiant star Betelgeuse in the constellation of Orion varies in magnitude from 0.4 to
1.3 as it changes in size from 300 to 400 times our sun's diameter. Calculate the ratio of its maximum
brightness to its minimum brightness ?
5. Contrast the terms absolute magnitude and apparent magnitude
6.This table shows some famous stars
Star
Magnitude
Distance (l.y.)
Star type
Bellatrix (the conquerer)
Sirius (the dog star)
Mirzam (the announcer)
1.6
360
blue giant
-1.46
8.7
white
2.0
720
blue giant
a) Why is it that Sirius, a main sequence white star, appears brighter than the hot blue giant Mirzam
which is in the same constellation ?
b) How much brighter is
(i) Sirius than Bellatrix ?
(ii)Mirzam than Bellatrix ?

c) Absolute Magnitude of Stars M

The apparent magnitude as quoted in astronomy books refers to the brightness of a star as we see it in the sky. The amount of light that reaches us from a distant star decreases as the distance squared (the inverse square law).

So the apparent magnitude of a star depends on the distance to the star as well as the actual star light output. To estimate a star’s actual light output, we invent new number called the absolute magnitude M.

The absolute magnitude of a star is its brightness when viewed from 10 parsecs away.

The absolute magnitude is the best number for comparing the intrinsic brightness of stars. We calculate some unexpected results from the stars in our sky. Our sun has an apparent magnitude of - 26.8 - enough to blind you if you look at it for too long. Its absolute magnitude is a paltry 4.8. So our poor old Sol is a bit of a wimp compared to other energy grinders !

Now take another middle class star like Deneb. This has an apparent magnitude of 1.3 and an absolute magnitude of -7.5 ! This gives out 80,000 times as much light as our sun - enough to blow the eyeballs off any poor unfortunate cockroaches that are silly enough to live on its planets.

Apparent magnitude ,m, is brightness from earth at distance d Absolute magnitude, M, is brightness

Apparent magnitude ,m, is brightness from earth at distance d

magnitude ,m, is brightness from earth at distance d Absolute magnitude, M, is brightness from 10

magnitude ,m, is brightness from earth at distance d Absolute magnitude, M, is brightness from 10

Absolute magnitude, M, is brightness from 10 parsecs away (32.6 light years)

is brightness from earth at distance d Absolute magnitude, M, is brightness from 10 parsecs away

Enough levity you slave ! Now to the maths. We are about to derive the most important equation in this unit. So pay attention, at least to the final answer !

We have two formulae that we can use. The first is derived from the Inverse Square Law for light

I 1 d 1 2 I 1 / I 2

= I 2 d 2 2 d 2 2 / d 1 2

=

The second is our formula relating brightness ratios

I 1 / I 2

Substituting

=

2.5 m 2 - m 1

2.5 m 2 - m 1 =

d 2 2 / d 1 2

The absolute magnitude M (m 2 ) is the magnitude at distance d 2 = 10 parsecs The absolute magnitude m (m 1 ) is the magnitude at distance d 1

2.5 M - m = Taking logs of both sides

10 2 / d 1 2

(M-m) log 10 2.5 = 2 log 10 10/d = - 2 log 10 d/10 Now because 1/ log 10 2.5 = 2.5

(Try it on your calculator)

We can rewrite the rotten thing

M - m

=

- 5 log 10 d/10

M =

m

- 5 log 10 d/10

M = absolute magnitude

Astronomy Elective 16.26

m = apparent magnitude

Write that one down Sam !

d is distance to star and must be in Parsecs

Worked Examples

1. A star has a magnitude of 5.7 as seen from earth. Almanacs list it as 15.3 light years away.

Determine its absolute magnitude.

First we must convert light years to parsecs

1 parsec = 3.26 l.y. 4.69 parsec = 15.3 l.y.

M

=

m

- 5 log 10 d/10

=

5.7 - 5 log 10 4.69/10

=

7.3 (we see it closer than 10 parsecs)

2. A star has an apparent magnitude of 6.3 and an absolute magnitude of - 1.2. How far away is it in

parsecs and light years ?

M

= -5 log 10 d/10

-1.2

=

m

6.3

- 5 log 10 d/10

- 5

=

log 10 d/10 - 7.5

log 10 d/10 = 1.5 d/10 = 31.62

d = 316.2 parsec = 316.2 x 3.26 l.y. = 1031 l.y. away

☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.9 Apparent and Absolute Star Magnitudes 1. This table contains some famous stars
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.9
Apparent and Absolute Star Magnitudes
1. This table contains some famous stars as listed in Sky Catalogue 2000.0
Determine the distance to the stars in parsecs and their absolute magnitudes :-
Star
Distance in l.y.
Apparent magnitude
Colour
Fomalhaut
22
1.2
blue-white
Arcturus
36
-0.04
0range-red
Vega
26
0.03
blue-white
Canopus
1200
-0.72
yellow-white
Altair
16
0.77
white
2. The red giant star Haemoglob in the constellation Dracula has an absolute magnitude of 3.8
and is 650 light years away. What is its distance in parsecs and its apparent magnitude ?
3. The yellow supergiant Twinkletoe has an apparent magnitude of 12.7 and is 800 light years away.
What is its absolute magnitude ?
4. Under what circumstances is the absolute magnitude of a star greater than the apparent magnitude ?
5. Define absolute magnitude.
6. The apparent magnitude of a star is 5.9. Its absolute magnitude is 3.6.
a) How many times brighter is its absolute magnitude over its apparent magnitude ?
b) How can there be a difference for the same star ?

Solutions 16.8

1. Amount of radiant energy emitted by the star per second and the distance from earth to the star.

2. Oldenick has a larger magnitude number and is fainter. It differs by 2 magnitudes. So

I O /I B

3. They are 3 magnitudes different. So you can use simple logic rather than a formula. A is brighter as it

has the lower number. The answer is 2.5 3 = 15.6 times as bright.

4. The numbers are rotten so we trot out the trusty formula

= 1/ 2.5 x 2.5 = 0.16

m 2 - m 1

= 1.3 - 0.4

= 0.9

So

I 1

I 2

0.9

=

2.512

=

2.3 times

5. Absolute magnitude is related to intrinsic brightness. It is the stars magnitude as seen from 10 Par-

secs away. Apparent magnitude is the magnitude seen from earth. 6 (a) Sirius is closer

(b) (i) m 2 - m 1

= 1.6 + 1.46

= 3.06

So

So

I 1

I 2

(ii) m 2 - m 1

I

I 2

1

3.06

=

2.512

=

16.8 times

= 1.6 - 2.0

=

- 0.4

 

- 0.4

=

2.512

=

0.69 times

Solutions 16.9

1.

 

Star

Distance in Parsec

Absolute magnitude M

Fomalhaut

6.7

2.1

Arcturus

11

-0.25

Vega

7.98

0.52

Canopus

368

- 8.5

Altair

4.9

2.3

2. 199.4 parsec , 10.3

3. 245.4 parsec,

4. It is greater when the absolute magnitude is dimmer than the apparent magnitude. This occurs when

earth is closer than 10 parsecs to the star (or closer than 32.6 light years.)

5. The absolute magnitude is the magnitude when observed from a standard distance of 10 parsecs from

the sun.

6. The absolute magnitude is brighter so the ratio will be more than 1.

The difference in magnitude is 5.9 - 3.6 = 2.3

So the brightness ratio

M

=

m

- 5 log 10 d/10

M = 5.8

= 2.512 2.3

= 8.3 times

d) Spectroscopic Parallax (An alternative method for measuring stellar distances)

Measuring accurately the distances to stars and galaxies remains a problem for astronomers. For close stars, we use the Hipparcos satellite to measure the annual trigonometrical parallax in arc-seconds. For distant stars, the method of “spectroscopic parallax “ is an option. The name is misleading be- cause we do not measure parallax at all. The following steps are followed :-

a) Measure the star’s apparent magnitude using photometry b) Study the spectra using a spectroscope to find the spectral class of the sun c) Most stars lie on the main sequence of an H-R diagram. We use the spectral class on the H-R graph to estimate the absolute magnitude M. d) Then we use the formula m - M = 5 log d/10

the spectral class on the H-R graph to estimate the absolute magnitude M. d) Then we
the spectral class on the H-R graph to estimate the absolute magnitude M. d) Then we
the spectral class on the H-R graph to estimate the absolute magnitude M. d) Then we

to calculate d.

Problem

has an absolute magnitude of about 5, assuming that it is a main sequence star. Estimate the distance to Mlow if its apparent magnitude is 2.

A glance at the H-R diagram below shows that a particular yellow star Mlow, like our sun,

Solution

m - M = 5 log d/10

2 - 5

= 5 log d/10

-0.6

= log d/10

d/10 = 0.25

d = 2.5 Parsecs

The Hertzsprung - Russell Diagram

Absolute magnitude Luminosity sol = 1 -10 1,000,000 Cepheid variables -5 Red Giants 10,000 0
Absolute
magnitude
Luminosity
sol = 1
-10
1,000,000
Cepheid
variables
-5
Red Giants
10,000
0
100
M
Main sequence
+5
1
+10
Sol
0.01
+15
White dwarfs
0.0001

Spectral

0

B

A

F

G

K

M

class

Surface 30

15

10

7

5

3

temp (thousands of o K)

 

Colour

-0.3

0

+0.5

+1.0 +1.5

index

(B-V)

e) Colour Index of Stars (C.I.) -A way to measure Star Temperature

There are two ways to estimate the magnitude of a star. We can use our eyes and look at the thing or we can photograph it and look at the size of the star on the plate. Both methods present problems.

The human eye does not work the same for all colours. Our eyes see the colours yellow and green quite brightly compared to blue and violet. This is one of the reasons why we use yellow and green traffic lights and not blue or purple. In theatres, blue or purple spotlights need higher wattage bulbs than the reds, greens and yellows, to produce the same intensity of light. Our eyes see the photovisual magnitude V (= apparent magnitude).

Old style astronomers 100 years ago used black and white photographic plates. The chemical

reactions on the film were different to the chemical reactions on the retina of the human eye. These black and white plates detected blues and violets more easily than the other colours. This is opposite

to

the eye. Photographic films registered a different photographic magnitude B.

In

recognition of the problems of using star photographs to determine the magnitude of stars,

astronomers use coloured filters when photographing the sky USING MODERN PANCHROMATIC FILM. From the size of the dot on the film, or the intensity of light hitting a photocell, you can come up with a star magnitude number for each filter. (Note that magnitude numbers are the opposite of what you would expect. Magnitude 1 is a bright big dot on the plate. Magnitude 6 is a dim small dot.)

Types of filters include :-

- yellow (or red)-

blue

- lets yellow (or red) through

lets blue through

gives the B (photographic) magnitude - gives the V (visual) magnitude

Using yellow (or red) filters allows the colours through that the eye is most sensitive to. The film, for these filters, "sees" much the same thing as the human eye.

The colour index of a star is a direct measure of star temperature and is calculated by photograph-

ing the star using first a blue then a yellow filter, finding B and V, and calculating the difference, B -

V.

   

Colour index C.I.

=

B - V

 

=

Blue filter magnitude - Visual (yellow or red filter) magnitude

 

YES LEARN IT !

A

hot star will emit more blue light than yellow so the B number will be much smaller than the yellow

number V. It will have a negative colour index. A cool red star will emit very little blue and more

yellow. The B number will be large and the V number small. Red stars have a positive colour index. The table on the next page demonstrates that star surface temperature and colour index are related.

Notice that the colour index numbers are never large - from -0.4 for a hot blue star to +1.7 for a cool red star.

Spectral Class

Temperature (K)

Color

Colour Index(B-V)

Mass

 

(sun =1)

M

<3,500

Red

+1.7

0.3

K

3,500-4,800

Orange

+1.2

0.7

G

4,800-6,000

Yellow

+0.7

1.0

F

6,000-8,000

Yellow-White

+0.4

1.4

A

8,000-11,000

White

+0.1

2.5

B

11,000-30,000

Blue-White

-0.2

8.0

O

>30,000

Blue

-0.4

30

The following plot demonstrates that there is a direct relationship between star surface temperature (x axis) and Colour Index (y-axis). This proves that Colour Index is a useful and easy measure of star surface temperature. The higher the colour index, the lower the surface temperature.

Colour

Index

2.0 1.5 1.0 0.5 0.0 0 5000 10000 15000 20000 25000 30000 -0.5 Surface temperature
2.0
1.5
1.0
0.5
0.0
0
5000
10000
15000
20000
25000
30000
-0.5
Surface temperature (K)

Measuring Colour Index C.

Blue filter
Blue filter

Plate gives photographic magnitude B

Yellow filter
Yellow filter

Plate gives visual magnitude V

Colour Index

=

B - V

Set 16.10

Colour Index and Spectral Types

1. State the possible colours of stars with negative colour indexes.

2. State the relationship between colour index and star temperature.

3. Describe how an astronomer might go about measuring the colour index of a star.

4. An astronomer estimates the apparent visual magnitude of a star to be 8.39. An old photographic

plate is used to produce a "photographic magnitude" of 7.99.

a)

Explain why there a difference.

b)

Assuming the star has not changed its magnitude, calculate the colour index.

c)

Suggest a colour for the star and comment on its temperature.

5.

A star has an apparent visual magnitude of +0.5 and a blue magnitude of 2.0. Use the table on the

previous page to determine :-

a) its colour index

b) its colour

c) its spectral type

d) its surface temperature

6. A star has an apparent visible magnitude of + 4.7 and a colour index of - 0.5. It is 50 parsecs

away. Determine the

a) blue visible magnitude

b) star colour

c) absolute visual magnitude

7. A star has a magnitude of 12.3 using a red filter and 12.9 using a blue filter, both on panchromatic

film.

a)

Calculate its colour index.

b)

Use the table to estimate its colour and temperature.

c)

Which filter is blocking out the most energy ? Why ?

8.

Explain why we calculate colour index for stars.

f) Photometric Methods for Measuring Stellar Apparent Magnitude m

Photometry is the science of measuring star brightnesses (apparent magnitudes m). The brightness of a star reflects its on its intrinsic luminosity and distance. The intrinsic luminosity is, in turn, related to star size and temperature. Our methods for measuring m have evolved:-

a) Good old Hipparchos in 129 AD used his own handsome boggle-eyes to estimate m on his scale of

1-6, with 1 the brightest. As we have seen, the human eye has limitations, seeing red as brighter than blue or violet.

b) In the 19th century came telescope cameras and photographic plates. The Sydney Observatory has

some of these on display. For the jargon lovers who rule, this is called photographic photometry. Modern telescopes such as the Australian Schmidt Telescope take photographic plates of quite broad areas of the sky (6 o x 6 o ). These negative plates can be scanned by laser beams to produce a digitised image. The diameters of the star dots and the dot densities can be used to measure m.

c) Photoelectric photometry is the preferred technology because it does not depend on crude dot

measuring.

Rather it uses a sensor called a Charge Coupled Device plus a photomultiplier to provide a more accurate measurement of the number of incident photons.

The star is centred on a small opening to block out foreign light.

The photomultiplier tube con- verts the weak starlight energy into a strong electric current which can be accurately mea- sured.

The current is proportional to the starlight and is produced by the stepwise acceleration of the electrons ejected by the photo- cell.

Photons Antimony -Caesium cathode with photoemissive surface 200V 400V 600V Output
Photons
Antimony
-Caesium
cathode with
photoemissive
surface
200V
400V
600V
Output

The Photomultiplier

100V

 

Dynode

 

300V

electrodes

produce

more

500V

photoemissions

 

9

 

(x 10

)

700V

The main advantage of photoelectric photometry over photographic photometry is that it allows starlight to be sensed, multiplied, analysed and stored quickly and efficiently in digital form in the remote locations where telescopes are located. It allows the study of a much broader spectrum of EMR than is sensed by films. Additionally, it can detect faint starlight or focus on narrow frequency bands specific to individual elements such as hydrogen.

Set 16.11

Photometry

1. Define the term photometry

2. Distinguish between photographic and photoelectric photometry.

3. Outline reasons why photoelectric photometry is the preferred method of photometry.

9. Binary Stars

Binary stars are not just stars that happen to appear close together in the sky. They are two stars which appear to orbit each other in the form of ellipses about their common centre of mass. Being close together, they obey the Law of Universal Gravitation as well as Kepler’s Laws.

Because stars form from irregular clouds of gas, it is quite common for solar systems to possess more than one star. In fact 75% of stars have companions. The brightest magnitude 0.9 Southern Cross star Alpha Crucis appears as a binary of two blue white stars of magnitudes 1.4 and 1.9 when viewed through a telescope. We call them Alpha Crucis A & B.

The closest star system is magnitude -0.27 Alpha Centauri, just 4.3 light years away. Telescopes reveal magnitudes 0 AND 1.4 yellow stars (A&B). These orbit each other every 80 years. We have since discovered a 3rd star, the magnitude 11 dim red dwarf ,Proxima Centauri, all of 2 o of sky away from its companions, the invisible closest star to us. It is a flare star, suddenly increasing by 1 magni- tude for several minutes. It takes a million years to orbit its companions.

The brightest star in the sky, Sirius, has a dim white dwarf companion. If you are a Gemini, you would expect your starsign to consist of two “twin stars” Castor and Pollux that appear to the bottom right of Orion (The Hunter) in the summer sky. Actually Castor is a multiple star of six suns. There are two groups of two spectroscopic binaries plus an eclipsing binary pair.

Binaries are stars which are so physically close that they orbit each other. They should not be confused with optically double stars that appear by chance to be close together but do not effect each other gravitationally. Thankfully optical double stars are fairly rare.

Types of Binaries

a) Visual
a) Visual

b) Astrometric

Types of Binaries a) Visual b) Astrometric c) Eclipsing d) Spectroscopic Two stars visible. Orbit centre

c) Eclipsing

Types of Binaries a) Visual b) Astrometric c) Eclipsing d) Spectroscopic Two stars visible. Orbit centre

d) Spectroscopic

a) Visual b) Astrometric c) Eclipsing d) Spectroscopic Two stars visible. Orbit centre of mass. One
a) Visual b) Astrometric c) Eclipsing d) Spectroscopic Two stars visible. Orbit centre of mass. One
a) Visual b) Astrometric c) Eclipsing d) Spectroscopic Two stars visible. Orbit centre of mass. One

Two stars visible. Orbit centre of mass.

One star visible. Invisible companion causes orbit wobble

One star

visible. Varies

in brightness

when they

eclipse each

other.

One star visible. Double dark bands in spectrum indicate 2 stars.

Astronomy Elective 16.34

As you can see, there are four types of binaries :-

a) Classification of Binaries - Remember the VASE

(i) Visual Binaries

With the naked eye they look like one star, but two can be seen using telescopes.

(ii) Astrometric Binaries

can be seen using telescopes. (ii) A strometric Binaries The brightest star in the sky is

The brightest star in the sky is Sirius A, the Dog star. Its’ motion is irregular because it has a dark companion that cannot be seen but causes Sirius to move strangely as Sirius A and its dark compan- ion orbit each other. Astrometric binaries contain one invisible star that causes its bright companion to wobble as they orbit each other. The bright star describes a slow S shaped orbit

(iii) Spectroscopic Binaries

If the absorption spectrum of a star is seen to be a series of double lines, this is evidence that there are two stars present which are quite close together. Each spectrum is Doppler shifted as they are moving differently to each other. Double spectral lines can indicate a binary.

(iv) Eclipsing Binaries

This is where the stars pass in front of each other. The total binary star has a certain brightness. When the stars pass in front of each other, the system dims. There are two dimmings, the greater being when the dull star passes in front of the brighter star. We cannot see the two stars in eclipsing binaries. What we see is a single star that varies in intensity. We will discuss this later when we talk about "Winking Algol".

b) Using Binary Period data to Measure Star Masses

You are expected to be able to “explain the importance of this”.

Measuring star masses on their own is difficult. In our solar system, the problem of measuring the sun’s mass was solved by the wise men of old by observing the period and orbit radius of a planet and using Kepler’s 3rd Law.

r 3

=

GM

T 2

4π 2

This should be a tool for measuring the masses of distant suns. Unfortunately, in spite of what you read in some papers, we cannot see their planets. However with binary stars, each star acts as a planet to the other. So we can revisit Kepler’s famous equation.

We can select visual binaries for a calculation or even spectroscopic binaries. The later can actually be more user-friendly because we can use the Doppler shifts of the spectral lines to calculate the star speeds v 1 and v 2 as they orbit each other.

For our calculations we will simplify our two elliptical orbits to two circles. Our measurements are not particularly accurate. We are merely calculating solar masses as powers of 10.

Let

m 1 and m 2 be the solar masses of two stars Juggernaut and Argonaut

r 1 and r 2 be the distances to the centre of mass

Juggernaut Argonaut r r C 1 2 Centre of m m mass 1
Juggernaut
Argonaut
r
r
C
1
2
Centre of
m
m
mass
1

r is the star separation where r = r 1 + r 2 M is the total masss of the system where M = m 1 + m 2 T is the orbital period of the binary system

2

The centre of mass will be closer to the more massive Juggernaut

(i) Calculating the mass of a Binary System M

The astronomer first measures the angular separation of the stars and the distance to the primary. From this the star separation r can be calculated.

For the rest we rely on our old mate Johannes Kepler’s 3rd Law.

r 3 = GM T 2 4π 2 So M = 4π 2 r 3
r 3
=
GM
T 2
4π 2
So M
=
4π 2 r 3

G T 2 You might try a calculation for two star Bert and Ernie distant 5 x 10 10 km apart. The orbit has a period of 100 years and G = 6.672 x 10 -11 MKS units. (Convert to metres and seconds). The star mass according to my old bomb black box and increasingly goopy brain is 7 x 10 33 kg. This type of calculation is one of the legendary syllabus “dot points”.

(ii) Calculating the mass of individual Stars

The condition for the centre of mass given two orbiting point masses is :-

m 1 r 1

=

m 2 r 2

We need to focus on the first sun, so we eliminate the terms for the second sun by substituting these equations:

r 2

m 2

=

=

r

-

M

-

r 1

m 1

Substituting these into the first equation

m 1 r 1 =

m 1 r 1 =

m 1 r

m 1

=

=

(M-m 1 )(r - r 1 )

Mr - Mr 1 - m 1 r + m 1 r 1

M(r - r 1 )

M(r - r 1 )

r

Similarly, we can derive this formula for the other sun:

m 2

=

M(r - r 2 )

r

We are still following the dot point : “Explain the importance of binary stars in determining stellar

masses.” The answer to this is significant. The calculations of the masses of some dark companion stars in astrometric binaries have revealed some objects which are quite massive and others that are relativley lightweight compared to their bright companions. The massive objects are believed to be black holes. The lightweight objects are the first “Jupiter size” planets to be detected outside our solar system.

The formulae that I have just used and derived above will not be a given in the HSC. Only the Kepler’s Law formula will be given. Because of this, I will not give you practice in using the above derived formulae.

Set 16.12

Binary Stars

1. Define the term “binary star” and contrast this term with “optical double star”.

2. Classify and compare the types of binary stars.

3. Construct a test that astronomers could use to identify the presence of a visual binary.

4. Explain the importance of binary stars in determining stellar masses. Outline the items of data that

an astronomer would need to gather to calculate the stellar masses of two binary stars.

5. Given this data for binary stars Bib and Bub, calculate the mass of the entire binary star system :

Star separation 2.0 x 10 11 km

Orbit period 3.0 x 10 9 sec

G = 6.672 x 10 -11 units

Solutions 16.10

1. Blue or blue-white (the hottest colours, see table top previous page).

2. As the colour index increases, the surface temperature decreases.

3. The colour index of a star is a direct measure of star temperature and is calculated by photo-

graphing the star using first a blue then a yellow filter, finding B and V, and calculating the difference, B - V. 4a) The chemical reactions on the retina of the eye are more sensitive to yellow and red. The chemical reactions on film are more sensitive to blue.

b) C.I. = B -V = 7.99 - 8.39 =

c) blue, hot . 30,000 K

5a) C.I. = B -V = 2.0 - 0.5 = 1.5 b) orange --> red c) M d) 3000 --> 3500 K

6a) C.I. = B -V

- 0.40

B

=

C.I. + V = - 0.5 + 4.7

=

4.2

b)

blue from colour index number (see table)

c)

M

=

m

- 5 log 10 d/10

= 4.7 - 5 log 10 50/10

= 1.2

7a) C.I. = B -V = 12.9 - 12.3

=

0.6

b)

yellow around 5500

c)

blue, 12.9 is a "fainter" number than 12.3

8.

The graph on page 16.31 demonstrates that there is a direct relationship between colour index and

star surface temperature. Hense it is a powerful star temperature indicator. It is better than using one filter for taking a photograph as you are using more of the star light.

Solutions 16.11

1. Photometry is the science of measuring star brightnesses.

2. Photographic photometry is a method where broad areas of the sky are photographed. The

negative is then analysed. The star black dots on the negative are compared in size and densities to

stars of known apparent magnitudes.

Photoelectric photometry uses a Charge Coupled Device plus a photomultiplier. The electronics convert the incident photon energies to electric current pulses which are amplified by the photomultiplier and measured.

3. Photoelectric photometry :-

• produces a more accurate measurement for m.

• senses lower energy sources.

• is faster and stores information digitally.

• can search a broader range of EMR frequencies than film.

• can zero in on narrow frequencies to identify particular element spectral lines.

Solutions 16.12

1. A binary is a pair of stars that orbit each other. Optically double stars appear close, from the

perspective of the earth, but are actually too distant from each other for a mutual orbit.

2. The types of binaries are Visual, Astrometric, Spectroscopic and Eclipsing.

Visual binaries appear visually to be one star but split into two in telescopes. Continued observations reveal that they orbit each other.

Astrometric binaries have one invisible star such as a black dwarf or black hole. The second bright star performs a gravitational dance. Spectroscopic binaries have a spectrum which consists of twinned lines. This is the only evidence that there are two stars present. One star is in an orbit moving towards us with spectra blue-shifted. The other star is moving away with spectra red shifted.

Eclipsing binaries are visible stars which appear to fluctuate in magnitude as one star passes in front of the other then vica versa. There are two different eclipses and hence two differnt minima in apparent magnitude.

3. Visual binary stars split into two stars when viewed telescopically. The test is that, over a period of

time, each star moves around a common centre of mass.

4. Binary star masses can be calculated using the formula m 1 =

M(r - r 1 ) where M is the system

r

mass, r is the star separation and r 1 is the distance to the centre of mass. The importance of binary stars is that we cannot estimate star masses without using Kepler’s 3rd Law. To do this we need to “see” an orbiting planet or sun and measure its orbit radius r and period T. The data needed is the distance to the binary and angular separation which gives us r, the period T and the distance to the centre of mass.

5.

r 3

=

GM

T 2

4π 2

So M

=

4π 2 r 3 G T 2

Substituting in and converting km to metres, we get M = 5.3 x 10 35 kg.

10. Variable Stars

Variable stars are those which flicker or pulsate with time. They change their relative and absolute magnitude. Some even vary in colour.

There are tens of thousands of variable stars known. One famous variable is the flare star Eta Carinae to the right of the southern cross. It appears as a fuzz because much of it is nebula that has been blown off. One hundred years ago it was one of the brightest stars in our southern sky.

a) Classification of Variables

Variable stars are classified as Extrinsic or Intrinsic and Non-Periodic or Periodic. To determine the type of variable that we are dealing with, it helps to study its light curve, which is a graph of apparent magnitude against time.

(i) Extrinsic Variables

This are stars where the cause of the variability comes from outside the star. The most famous Extrin- sic variables are the eclipsing binaries that we have already dealt with.

Eclipsing Binary stars (Winking Algol) Perseus is a constellation near Taurus. The hero Perseus has slain Medusa, the Gorgon and is holding the severed head in one hand. (She's the nice girl with all the snakes in her hair.) The eye of the Gorgon is Beta Perseus, called Algol - the winking demon. As it winks, the brightness drops from magnitude 2.2 to 3.5, every 2.87 days for a period of 10 hours.

Dim star eclipses brighter
Dim star eclipses brighter

Dim star eclipses brighter

Dim star eclipses brighter

The variation in brightness is caused by the fact that Algol is two stars - an eclipsing binary. Point A on the graph is the normal brightness of the two stars together. Point B is produced when the dimmer star passes in front of the brighter one and eclipses it. Point C is produced when the brighter star passes in front of the dimmer one. The graph right is another example of an eclipsing binary "Light Curve". Note that it also has two types of minima as does the graph above.

it also has two types of minima as does the graph above. (ii) Intrinsic Variables The

(ii) Intrinsic Variables

The brightness variation in these twinklers is caused by changes inside the star.

Non Periodic Intrinsic Variables In these stars the pulsation in brightness is quite irregular. Such variables include the massive star explosions that we call novae and supernovae. As well there are outbursts of energy in flare stars that are usually caused by changes in reactions at the star surface or the blanketing of the fusion zone by a product such as carbon, followed by its blowing away.

Periodic Intrinsic Variables Periodic intrinsic variables have light curves that demonstrate a regular pattern. They include the R-R Lyrae stars (Old Supergiants) and the famous Cepheid Variables (Yellow Supergiants). Both are particularly valuable for measuring the distances to far galaxies and globular star clusters that usually happen to contain a number of these star types

that usually happen to contain a number of these star types Globular Omega Centauri R-R Lyrae

Globular Omega

Centauri

R-R Lyrae Stars R-R Lyrae is a giant star on the edge of the constellation of Lyra (the harp). It is the type star for a group of variable stars that can also be used to measure distances. They are related to Cepheid variables and vary in size by about 1 magnitude in less than a day. R-R Lyrae varies from magnitude 7.4 —> 8.6 every 0.57 days. They are particularly common in GLOBULAR STAR CLUSTERS and are valuable distance measurers for these star groups. A typical globular is a part of our galaxy, is off to the side of our galaxy and about 15,000 light years away.

Cepheid Variables - Distance measurers

These stars are named after the first of their type to be studied - Delta Cephei. This star oscillates between apparent magnitude 3.9 (bright) and 4.8 (dim) with a period of oscillation of 5.3 days. As it oscillates, it varies in size from 32 to 35 times the sun’s diameter. Using parallax methods, its distance has been measured to be 1300 light years away.

Cepheid variables are yellow supergiants which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of about 1 magnitude.

which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of
which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of
which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of
which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of
which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of
which expand and contract over a period of 1-50 days producing a variation in brightness of

This graph is a “Light Curve” for another Cepheid variable Omega Sagittarii

Curve” for another Cepheid variable Omega Sagittarii We can learn a number of things from this

We can learn a number of things from this light curve. It changes its apparent magnitude on a 7.5 day cycle from a dim apparent magnitude of 5.1 to a bright 4.3. This means that the star is varying its apparent magnitude by 0.8 units. This means that its luminosity ratio is varying by a factor of

2.5 0.8

= 2.08

This is an enormous variation in brightness over a seven and a half day cycle. The star must be oscil- lating in size and colour as well. This star is changing from a yellow class G1 star to a white class A9 star.

The periods for other Cepheid variable stars range from 1 to 100 days. The fluctuation in magnitude can be as much as one unit. Most Cepheid variable stars are supergiant yellow stars which appear quite bright because the colour yellow is easy to see with human eyes. Because of these properties, Cepheid variables were discovered in the Magellanic cloud galaxies to the side of the Milky way and Andromeda galaxy near Pegasus .

In 1908 Henrietta Leavitt studied the Cepheid variables in the Smaller Magellanic Cloud. When she plotted the magnitude of these stars against the period of variation, she found that there was a definite curve. Using a logarithmic scale, the graph can become a straight line. The vertical scale can be redrawn as average absolute magnitude because the stars in the Magellanic Cloud are much the same distance away.

in the Magellanic Cloud are much the same distance away. When we discover a distant Cepheid

When we discover a distant Cepheid variable, we can use the graph to determine the absolute magnitude M of the supergiant. It is easy to use a telescope to measure the apparent magnitude m for the Magellanic Cloud Cepheids . We then have M and m.

Absolute magnitude M

=

Apparent magnitude m - 5 log 10 (d/10)

It was easy to use this formula to calculate the distance, d, to the Magellanic Cloud. Similar calcula- tions using the Cepheids in the Andromeda Nebula revealed that it was a very distant object 2 million light years away or twenty times the diameter of the Milky way. The Andromeda nebula became the Andromeda very distant galaxy. The Cepheid variables are the main tool that we use to measure the distance to our neighbouring galaxies.

As you will see later, variable stars plot well above the main sequence line on the H-R diagram.

☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.13 Variable Stars 1.This is the light curve for Omega Sagittari. a) What
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.13
Variable Stars
1.This is the light curve for Omega Sagittari.
a) What sort of star is Omega Sagittari ?
b) What is its period of pulsation ?
c) What is its average apparent
magnitude?
d) What changes occur during its
pulsation?
e) Determine the ratio of its maximum
brightness to its minimum brightness.

2.

This is a light curve for the star Twinkletoes

X Y Z
X
Y
Z

a)

What sort of star is Twinkletoes ?

b)

Account for the points X, Y and Z on the graph.

c)

Classify Twinkletoes as extrinsic or intrinsic; non periodic or periodic

3.

This is a light curve for the star Hiccules

periodic 3. This is a light curve for the star Hiccules a) Identify the type of

a)

Identify the type of star present.

b)

Calculate its period

c)

Calculate the ratio of its maximum to its minimum brightness.

d)

Why do astronomers value this class of star ?

4.

Two cepheid variables occur in the same magellanic cloud.

The first cepheid "Bullstrode" has a period of variation of 20 days whilst the second cepheid "Snakebelly" has a period of variation of 60 days.

a) Calculate the brightness ratio of

"Snakebelly" to "Bullstrode"

b) Identify the star with the higher

absolute magnitude number ?

5. Outline how a scientist uses a

Cepheid variable to calculate the distance to the star. Show in your answer a formula.

the distance to the star. Show in your answer a formula. 6. Explain why Cepheid Variables

6. Explain why Cepheid Variables are so valued by astronomers.

11. The Life History of Stars

a) Our own true sol - this is your life

A medium sized sun such as our own will shine for 10 billion years before running out of things to fuse. So our sun is presently middle-aged at 4.6 billion years.

Our sun’s life cycle can be summarised as follows :- Gas cloud A nebula is hit by a shock wave and contracts to a protostar. Newborn sun Nuclear reactions begin. 50x diameter, 100-1000 times brighter. Surface temperature 3,800 K. So it begins as a red giant. Point 1 on diagram. Main sequence Contracts under gravity until there is a balance between gravity and the p-p reaction. Is a yellow star, surface temperature 6000 K. Point 2 on diagram. Our sun spends 90% of its life in balance here. Now Middle aged. surface temperature 6,000 K half of hydrogen converted to helium. (movement from 2 to 3 is greatly exaggerated) 5 billion years hence Core only runs out of hydrogen. The core is only 12% of mass of the sun. Core contracts under gravity and heats. Fusion of hydrogen commences in a shell around the core in the hotter, faster CNO cycle. Events now happen fast - within a few million years. Heat causes rapid increase in size to a red giant surface temp 3,500K. 100-400 times diameter. Earth destroyed. Point 4 on diagram.

The star is now unstable and could be a variable. When hydrogen is exhausted, a fusion flash blows out the sun’s outer layers. This is a nova and it forms an expanding gas shell called a planetary nebula. A white dwarf is left with surface temperature 7000K and brightness 1/1000 of our sun. Dense core. Point 5 on diagram.

White Dwarf cools to red dwarf then becomes a frozen black dwarf.

The Evolution of Our Sun

Absolute

magnitude -10 -5 Red Giants 4 0 M +5 3 1. 2 +10 5. Sol
magnitude
-10
-5
Red Giants
4
0
M +5
3
1.
2
+10
5.
Sol
+15
White dwarfs
Spectral
0
B
A
F
G
K
M
class

Solutions 16.13

1a) Cepheid Variable b) T = 7.5 days c) 4.7 d) It changes in size, brightness, magnitude, spectral class and, probably, in core nuclear reactions. e) It changes its apparent magnitude from a dim apparent magnitude of 5.1 to a bright 4.3. This means that the star is varying its apparent magnitude by 0.8 units. This means that its luminosity ratio is varying by a factor of

2.5 0.8

2a) Eclipsing binary b) X is normal brightness of both stars together. Y is where the brighter star eclipses the dimmer star. Z is where the dimmer star eclipses the brighter star. c) Extrinsic periodic. 3a) Cepheid variable b) 5.4 days c) It changes its apparent magnitude from a dim apparent magnitude of 4.3 to a bright 3.6. This means that the star is varying its apparent magnitude by 0.7 units. This means that its luminosity ratio is varying by a factor of

2.5 0.7

d) From the period of pulsation, we can determine the absolute magnitude. By combining this with the measured apparent magnitude, we can determine the distance to the star. 4a) 100/30 = 3.33 b) The dimmer star, Bullstrode

5. The period of oscillation is determined. This is plotted on a graph of period against absolute

magnitude for known Cepheid variables. The absolute magnitude is read off the graph. The apparent magnitude is measured and the distance to the star calculated using the formula :-

= 2.08

= 1.9 times

Absolute magnitude M

=

Apparent magnitude m - 5 log 10 (d/10)

6. They can be used to calculate the distances to galaxies and globular star clusters.

b) Star Genesis

Beginnings seem always to follow previous events. Starbirth is no exception. The universe consists of strings of galaxies that have formed from the lumpy H and He matter that was the product of the big bang. The big things in our region are our galaxy of 100 billion suns with a black hole at the centre and the old globular star clusters scattered to the sides of it.

Our sun and solar system includes the wreckage leftover from a previous star. Sol is a second or third generation star and many of our earthly atoms have been produced in the seething energies of a nova event.

been produced in the seething energies of a nova event. Typical bright nebula forming stars. Dark

Typical bright nebula forming stars. Dark nebula dust lanes obsure the view

Gravity is a weak but patient force. Without its weakness, events in the universe would pass too rapidly for us to enjoy our own brief cycles. Most of the stuff of space is gas which is concentrated slowly by gravity into nebulae tens of light years across. Hydrogen is dominant in ion, atom and molecular form.

Gaseous nebulae may be dark, or brightly coloured, particularly if they are illuminated by stars forming within them. Dust grains of micron size are also found in space. They contain silicate cores surrounded by ice. These tiny planets act as surfaces for molecules to be built from the combination of interstellar gas atoms. These molecules are often organic, the sort that may have formed life on earth.

We study the birth of our sun by studying the births of stars within nebulae within our galaxy. The dark nebulae can be a nuisance. They often surround the protostars that we attempt to study from afar.

c) Protostar

The dust and gas of the interstellar medium is not still and sedate, but is continually stirred up and heated by solar winds and the shockwaves of nova events. Such sudden shockwaves can be of great assistance to gravity force in forming protostars.

Protostars obtain their heat from gravitational Potential Energy as the cloud condenses.

from gravitational Potential Energy as the cloud condenses. Astronomers are very interested in observing starbirth in

Astronomers are very interested in observing starbirth in nebulae such as those found embedded in the saucepan of Orion’s belt. Unfortunately starbirth involves clouds of concentrated dust which obscure young protostars. Infrared telescopes, often space-based and supercooled to get rid of interfering heat, can penetrate the dusty gloom. Much is still unknown about star formation.

Protostars form in giant molecular gas clouds. Such clouds possess a full range of ions and molecules, has a mass of one million times our sun, a density of 10 9 molecules/metre 3 and a temperature range of 10 --> 100 o K.

The clouds collapse under gravity so that gravitational PE becomes KE. The clouds heat up dramatically. The heat prevents further contraction. Dust surrounding the still forming protostar is helpful in absorbing energy from the gas and radiating it into space. More contraction continues for a million years until a balance is attained between radiation pressure and gravity. We now have a protostar.

The protostar continues to build mass by accretion and slowly shrinks and heats further. Nuclear reactions have not commenced but the protostar is bright and energetic and plotting above the main H-R diagram sequence. Indeed it behaves as a variable.

When the core temperatures reach 8 million o K, the fusion of hydrogen kicks in. The star stabilises into a steadily fusing smaller main sequence sun. Its mass should lie between 0.01 (red dwarf) and 100 (blue-giant) solar masses. It is now formally a zero-age main sequence star - a big mouthful for the new kid in the celestial block.

☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.14 Starbirth 1. Compare our sun with the protostar which formed it 2.
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.14
Starbirth
1. Compare our sun with the protostar which formed it
2. Contrast our sun with the protostar which formed it
3. Account for the energy of a protostar.
4. Describe in some detail the process of stellar formation.
5. Define the term “zero age main sequence star”

Solutions 16.14

1. Compare means consider the similarities and differences. They are similar in that they both shine

like stars. They are different in a number of ways. A protostar is often surrounded by dust clouds and it is often bigger and cooler at the surface than the star it forms. Protostars derive their energies by the conversion of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy. They have not commenced fusion like our sun is doing in the core.

2. Contrast means consider the differences only. They are different in a number of ways. A protostar

is often surrounded by dust clouds and it is often bigger and cooler at the surface than the star it forms. Protostars derive their energies by the conversion of gravitational potential energy into kinetic energy. They have not commenced fusion like our sun is doing in the core.

3. The energy of the protostar is caused by the collapse of the dust cloud towards the centre of mass.

The molecular cloud particles gain kinetic energy (heat) as they fall and lose gravitational PE.

4. Stellar formation begins with gas and dust drifting in space. The gas is a mixture of atoms and ions,

mostly H and He and dust, which is silica with ice on the outside and micron in size.On the surface of the dust, molecules form. Often starbirth is triggered by the explosion of an old generation sun,

compressing the nebula. Gravity collapses the star over a long period of time to form a glowing protostar.

When the temperature at the core of the protostar exceeds about 2 million o K, fusion commences and the star is born.

5. A zero age main sequence star is one that has commenced fusing, attained uniformity in size and a

balance between radiation pressure and gravity. It lies on the main sequence and will remain there for 90% of its life until its core runs out of fuel.

c) Young main sequence star

Young stars stabilise on the main sequence of the Hertsprung- Russell diagram when a balance is attained between gravity which shrinks and heats the star and the core fusion reactions that try to blow it apart.

and the core fusion reactions that try to blow it apart. One on the main sequence,

One on the main sequence, it stays there for 90% of its allotted lifespan. Stars are essentially hydrogen fusers. However, they do not fuse all their hydrogen, they use only about 15% of it in the core before exploding. This allows other daughter stars to have hydrogen to fuse.

It will help you remember how to draw the H-R diagram by knowing that the sun is on the centre of the main sequence, plotting at class G and magnitude 5.

This diagram shows the trend lines on the H-R diagram. The main sequence is slightly S-shaped. The white dwarf region is occupied by the core remnants of exploded suns. The red giant branch consists mostly of suns which have expanded as their cores ran out of fuel. The horizontal branch is occupied by variable stars, huffing and puffing as they near their final nova stage

As you move to the right through the main sequence, we move from massive, luminous, hot, blue stars to less massive, dull, cool, red stars. Why do stars occupy different positions on the main se- quence and have different colours ? The answer is simple. Blue stars initially have a bigger gas cloud and more fuel and enter the main sequence at the top left some time after they were born from a nebula. Red stars begin with little fuel and enter the main sequence to the bottom right.

You might expect the blue stars to last the longest, but the reverse is the case. Blue stars burn the fuel furiously and survive as stars for only a fraction of the time of the main sequence red dwarfs.

Stars do travel a short distance along the main sequence but not much. When stars begin to run out of fuel they will leave their position on the main sequence and go fizzing all up and around the diagram.

This diagram shows how protostars of different masses join the H-R diagram to form different coloured stars.

join the H-R diagram to form different coloured stars. You might expect that the blue giant

You might expect that the blue giant type O stars would last the longest. Unfortunately their cores are hotter than that of our sun. They fuse hydrogen in a reaction that is 1,000,000 times faster than our sun’s proton-proton chain reaction. The super-hot style of fusion reaction is the CNO reaction. They are not one million times bigger than our sun, only hundreds. So they radiate energy furiously, living life in the fast lane until in a single earthy geologic period, they meet their maker in a rather spectacular bang.

The moral to the story is that rich young kids learn to spend money quickly and blow it all on the really nasty party drugs like speed and cocaine. Red stars have little hydrogen to spend. Like low-paid schoolies, they know how to live on little and last for hundreds of billions of years, glowing dull red against the dark of space. They are the survivor suns.

This diagram shows how stars rich in gas end up with short life cycles.

The bottom diagram shows the cut off between the two competing core nuclear reactions.

Stars and Their Lifetimes

Blue main sequence stars have 30 times as much fuel as our sun but the

Blue main sequence stars have 30 times as much fuel as our sun but the luminosity is 10,000 times that of sol. They use up the hydrogen in a few million years

The CNO reaction requires higher activation energies than the p-p reaction.

There are no old blue stars

Yellow main sequence stars like our sun last 10 billion years

Yellow main sequence stars like our sun last 10 billion years

The CNO reaction will commence in our sun at the red giant stage. Gravity will shrink the core and super-heat it when the core runs out of hydrogen.

core and super-heat it when the core runs out of hydrogen. Red main sequence stars have

Red main sequence stars have much less fuel than our sun and use it very slowly. They have lifetimes of 100's of billions of years.

90% of main sequence stars are old red dwarfs.

The hydrogen fuel for that CNO reaction will come from regions around the core.

main sequence stars are old red dwarfs. The hydrogen fuel for that CNO reaction will come
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.15 Main Sequence Star 1. Identify for an H-R diagram: a) the two
☺☺☺☺☺ Set 16.15
Main Sequence Star
1. Identify for an H-R diagram:
a) the two possible vertical axes and three possible horizontal axes
b) the significance of the main sequence
c) the main regions populated by stars outside the main sequence and the significance of those
regions.
d) Where supergiant, giant and dwarf stars are found.
e) Where black holes are found.
f) Where red stars are found
2. Define the following cosmic features and
relate them to the H-R diagram:
a) Dark nebula
b) Bright nebula
c) Protostar
d) Planetary nebula
e) Pulsar
f) Black Hole
g) Black dwarf
h) Neutron star
3. For main sequence stars identify the relationship between temperature and luminosity.

d) Meet our Sun

This is some data for our sun, a type G star 4600 million years old, with another 5 billion years to go before the core exhausts its hydrogen

Diameter Mass Composition Core temperature Photosphere temperature Core density Photosphere density

864,000 miles 2 x 10 27 tonnes Hydrogen 80% Helium 20% Rest (mostly CNO) 1% 15,000,000 o C 6000 o C 70 g/cc 10 -6 g/cc

The next page shows the layers of our sun. It is not necessary for you to learn them in detail. The sun is rather large and the subject for much study by practical and theoretical physicists. Never try the look at the sun using a telescope. It will incinerate your retina. In fact it is a good idea never to use a telescope until after sunset. You may accidentally see a reflection off a window.

You notice that the core is hot and dense and the site for nuclear fusion. Thank the almighty that the next outer compacted layer manages to absorb much of the core's nasty radiation and convert it to light and heat. The outer layers are much cooler and are essentially gases. It is the photosphere that we see. Its temperature of 6000C determines the yellow colour of the sun.

Suns are a tension between gravity and radiation pressure from fusion. Fusion requires millions of degrees to occur. In our sun, fusion occurs mostly at the core. Fusion is the combining of atomic nuclei to form a new nucleus. Fusion is the most exothermic process that we know.

The sun is a place of violent extremes. It is not even made of normal matter. When you heat matter, it turns from solid to liquid to gas. If you heat it further, the atoms lose their electrons forming a mixture of positive atomic nuclei and electrons. This new state of matter is called plasma Moving charged particles are surrounded by their own magnetic fields which exert forces on other moving charges. So plasma seethes and emits all sorts of radiations as the plasma particles collide violently.

The Layers of the Sun

Corona (Outer atmosphere).

violently. The Layers of the Sun Corona (Outer atmosphere). Chromosphere (Flaming inner atmosphere.) Radiation zone

Chromosphere (Flaming inner atmosphere.)

Radiation zone (Zone of dense packed atoms. Absorbs and reflects nasty radiations from core.)

Photosphere (Visible pebbly layer. Yellow at 6000K.)

The Core is at 15,000,000 K Hydrogen fuses to Helium Gamma and neutrinos try to escape.

Solutions 16.15

1a) The two vertical axes are star absolute magnitude and luminosity (compared to sol) The three horizontal axes are colour index (C.I.), surface temperature and spectral type.

b) Stars spend 90% of their lives on themain sequence. As long as they are on the main sequence,

there is a balance between gravity, which contracts the star, and the radiation pressure from nuclear

fusion, which tries to expand it. Ths means that the suns have a stable size.

c) Below the main sequence at A position, you find the white dwarf region. These stars are the

remnants from nova events. The small ones gradually cool to black dwarfs. Above the main sequence and to the right are the red giants and red supergiants. These are either protostars or old stars close to nova .

Above the main sequence and central are the Cepheid Variables. These stars are unstable because of

changes in chemistry as fuel is exhausted. Above the main sequence and to the left are the blue supergiants. These are very young blue stars and protostars.

d) The bigger the star, the brighter. So dwarf suns are low down, normal suns in the middle, giant

suns up the top and supergiants way up top.

e) Black holes do not shine so do not plot on the diagram.You silly old fool! You tried to trick me

didn’t you?

f) Red stars are found on the bottom right main sequence.

2a) A dark nebula is a gas cloud containing enough interstellar dust to block out the light from stars behind it. Out west when you observe the galaxy, you will see lanes of dark nebulosity against the background of the Milky Way. Of particular interest is the Coal Sack near the Southern Cross. Dark nebulae are light absorbers and do not plot on the H-R diagram.

b) Bright nebulae are gas clouds, usually with newly forming suns buried within them. The gas in the

cloud absorbs energy from nearby suns and re-emits the energy as EMR. They do not plot on the H-R diagram.

c)

Protostars are hot accumulations of interstellar dust and gas. They glow but do not fuse. On the H-

R

diagram, they plot off the main sequence and often to the right. eg red giant.

d)

Planetary nebulae are the ring-like gas clouds blown out by a dying star. The position on the H-R

diagram depends on the time since the bang, bright to begin with then rapidly losing energy. It will be off the main sequence.

e) Pulsars are neutron stars formed by the gravitational collapse of white dwarfs that have masses

greater than 1.4 that of the sun. Pulsars have a high rate of rotation and a strong magnetic field. So they pulse beams of EMR out into space. The EMR is usually radio but can be others including light, X-rays and gamma rays. Pulsars are usually not visible so are not plotted on the H-R diagram.

f) Black holes are collapsed pulsars. The pulsar must be at least 3 solar masses for a hole to form.

They are superdense singularities and will attract all matter and light out to the event horizon. They cannot be seen and are not plotted on the H-R diagram.

g) Black dwarfs are suns that no longer radiate energy in the visible. They are often the last gasp of a

white dwarf sun and can be emitting heat. They plot below the right of the H-R diagram in the RNS

range of temperatures.

h) See pulsar.

3. Luminosity increases with surface temperature.

e) The Core Fusion reactions in suns

From the work of a physicist called Bethe in 1937, we believe that there are two different thermonu- clear reactions that can occur in stars to produce hydrogen from helium. These are the Proton-proton chain and the Carbon-nitrogen cycle.

(i) The Proton-proton chain reaction (Dominant in cooler sun cores)

The hydrogen atoms in the core of a sun have lost their electrons to form protons. It takes 4 protons

to combine to form a helium nucleus. The process occurs in three steps :-

1

H 1 +

1 H 1

—>

2 H 1 + 0 e 1