Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram

Topics: Stellar classification, Sun, Main sequence Pages: 2 (542 words) Published: October 8, 1999
The Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram or, the H-R Diagram for short, is a graph which plots stars according to their temperature and absolute magnitude. This graph reveals a pattern, which in fact is quite interesting. The H-R Diagram is named for the two astronomers, Ejnar Hertzsprung and Henry Russell, who discovered this pattern of stars. These two astronomers independently discovered that comparing magnitudes and spectral class (color) of stars yielded a lot of information about them. One key purpose of the H-R diagram is to show the relationship between temperature and absolute magnitude of stars. The type of temperature measurement used is Kelvin, where the zero point is equal to -273.16 C. On the H-R Diagram, the temperature of degrees Kelvin ranges from 3,000 to 30,000. The absolute magnitude of stars on the H-R Diagram ranges from +15 to -10. Absolute magnitude is how bright stars would appear if they were positioned at 32.6 light years away from earth. On this scale, the lower the number, the brighter the star. Thus, a start with an absolute magnitude of -10 would be much brighter than a star with an absolute magnitude of +15. The two astronomers found many patterns after developing their graph. They found that 90% of stars graphed fell within a band that ran through the middle of the graph. These stars range from cool, dim, red stars at the lower right of the H-R Diagram to hot, bright, blue stars at the upper left corner of the H-R Diagram. The stars that fall into to this band are known as main-sequence stars. Stars such as the sun, and almost every start visible in the night sky fall within this band of main sequence stars. There is another group of stars which are cool and bright that appear near the upper right corner of the H-R Diagram. These stars are very large and therefore have very big surface areas. These large surface areas give off large amounts of light and this makes the stars bright. Most of these stars are known as...
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