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What is a Star? - Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Is a Star?
  • 0:57 Different Kinds of Stars
  • 1:59 Star Life Cycle
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Diane Sieverson

Diane has taught all subjects at the elementary level, was the principal of a K-8 private school and has a master's degree in Measurement and Evaluation.

Stars are bright balls of hot gases that we can see on a clear night. Believe it or not, even our sun is a star! Come learn what stars are made of, how they form and some other cool facts.

What is a Star?

It's a cloudless night and you're sitting outside, looking up at twinkling lights in the dark sky above you. You wonder about those stars and what they're made of. People thousands of years ago wondered the same things, and now we have some pretty cool answers to those questions.

Stars are balls of hot, explosive gas that make their own light and heat energy. They're mostly made up of two gases called hydrogen and helium. You might have even played with helium if you inhaled some from a floating balloon, which made your voice sound high and squeaky!

Stars create their heat and light energy through explosions that burn hydrogen for fuel - kind of like how a car uses gasoline - turning it into helium through a method called nuclear fusion.

And although they look like they twinkle when we see them from Earth, they really don't. As their light beams down through the layers of our atmosphere, it bounces around, making it look like the stars are twinkling.

Different Kinds of Stars

There are many different kinds, sizes, and colors of stars. In fact, a star's color is dependent upon how hot it is: cooler stars are red and brown, while the hotter stars are white and blue. Let's take a look at some of the different kinds of stars you might see in the night sky.

  1. Dwarf Stars: Red dwarfs are the coolest, most common stars. Yellow dwarfs are medium-sized and include our Sun. White dwarfs are stars getting close to the end of their life. Brown dwarfs never get the burning process going.
  2. Giant Stars: Blue giants are very large, hot stars. Red giants are very large, cooler stars.
  3. Supergiant Stars: Blue supergiant stars are some of the biggest, hottest, and brightest stars. Red supergiant stars are red giants that have expanded and will eventually die out.
  4. Neutron Stars: These stars are formed when a supergiant star explodes and its center collapses, creating a really small and extremely heavy neutron star.

Star Life Cycle

Stars, like people, have a life cycle, which are the stages they go through from the time they form to the time they die out.

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