Life Cycle of a Star Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:05 Life Cycle of a Star
  • 0:16 1. Nebula and Protostar Stage
  • 0:41 2. Main Sequence Star Stage
  • 1:09 3. Giant Stage
  • 1:50 4. Cooling or Explosive Stage
  • 2:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kristina Washington-Morris

Kristina has taught a variety of elementary classes and has a master's degree in elementary education.

Have you ever looked into the night sky and tried to count all the different stars? The stars you see didn't always twinkle in the dark though. In this lesson, we will explore the life cycle of a star.

Life Cycle of a Star

Stars, much like humans, grow and change through stages of life. In the following sections, let's examine the different stages in the life cycle of a star.

1. Nebula and Protostar Stage

A nebula is a large area in space that contains gas and dust particles. This is where stars are born. When a large amount of gas and dust begins to spin together in a cloudy ball, it is called a protostar. Protostars are very young stars. In order to complete this stage, protostars have to get extremely hot; about 27 million degrees Fahrenheit!

2. Main Sequence Star Stage

Once the protostar is hot enough, nuclear reactions begin. The protostar is now a main sequence star. In this stage of life, a star glows just like our sun. The color of a star depends on how hot it is. Blue stars are the hottest and red stars are the coolest. Stars can stay in this stage for thousands to billions of years. Our sun is a smaller star and will stay in its current stage for billions of years!

3. Giant Stage

The next life cycle stage depends on the size of the main sequence star. What happens to smaller stars, like the sun, is much different than what happens to large stars.

After billions of years as a main sequence star, the nuclear reactions will slow and the star will cool slightly, turn red, and grow. The star is now a red giant at this stage.

When the nuclear reactions slow in larger stars, they also cool slightly, turn red, and grow. Larger starts, which can be a thousand times larger than our sun, become even more gigantic in this stage. That is why they are called super giants!

4. Cooling or Explosive Stage

The energy and heat of a star decrease in the giant stage and the star loses it outer shell. Once again, smaller stars react differently than larger stars in this stage.

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