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Lifetimes on the main sequence

How many years a star remains in the main-sequence band depends on its mass. You might think that a more massive star, having more fuel, would last longer, but it’s not that simple. The lifetime of a star in a particular stage of evolution depends on how much nuclear fuel it has and on how quickly it uses up that fuel. (In the same way, how long people can keep spending money depends not only on how much money they have but also on how quickly they spend it. This is why many lottery winners who go on spending sprees quickly wind up poor again.) In the case of stars, more massive ones use up their fuel much more quickly than stars of low mass.

The reason massive stars are such spendthrifts is that, as we saw above, the rate of fusion depends very strongly on the star’s core temperature. And what determines how hot a star’s central regions get? It is the mass of the star—the weight of the overlying layers determines how high the pressure in the core must be: higher mass requires higher pressure to balance it. Higher pressure, in turn, is produced by higher temperature. The higher the temperature in the central regions, the faster the star races through its storehouse of central hydrogen. Although massive stars have more fuel, they burn it so prodigiously that their lifetimes are much shorter than those of their low-mass counterparts. You can also understand now why the most massive main-sequence stars are also the most luminous. Like new rock stars with their first platinum album, they spend their resources at an astounding rate.

The main-sequence lifetimes of stars of different masses are listed in [link] . This table shows that the most massive stars spend only a few million years on the main sequence. A star of 1 solar mass remains there for roughly 10 billion years, while a star of about 0.4 solar mass has a main-sequence lifetime of some 200 billion years, which is longer than the current age of the universe. (Bear in mind, however, that every star spends most of its total lifetime on the main sequence    . Stars devote an average of 90% of their lives to peacefully fusing hydrogen into helium.)

Lifetimes of Main-Sequence Stars
Spectral Type Surface Temperature (K) Mass
(Mass of Sun = 1)
Lifetime on Main Sequence (years)
O5 54,000 40 1 million
B0 29,200 16 10 million
A0 9600 3.3 500 million
F0 7350 1.7 2.7 billion
G0 6050 1.1 9 billion
K0 5240 0.8 14 billion
M0 3750 0.4 200 billion

These results are not merely of academic interest. Human beings developed on a planet around a G-type star. This means that the Sun’s stable main-sequence lifetime is so long that it afforded life on Earth plenty of time to evolve. When searching for intelligent life like our own on planets around other stars, it would be a pretty big waste of time to search around O- or B-type stars. These stars remain stable for such a short time that the development of creatures complicated enough to take astronomy courses is very unlikely.

From main-sequence star to red giant

Eventually, all the hydrogen in a star’s core, where it is hot enough for fusion reactions, is used up. The core then contains only helium, “contaminated” by whatever small percentage of heavier elements the star had to begin with. The helium in the core can be thought of as the accumulated “ash” from the nuclear “burning” of hydrogen during the main-sequence stage.

Questions & Answers

what is comets , astroids ,
Sumit Reply
hi, I am yamini, I am in class 8 but very much interested in astronomy and go to NASA, what are the subjects in which I can master and lead to NASA.
yamini Reply
Hello Yamini, Im Ken and I'm avery intrested in joining the NASA too. Is nice to meet you.
Ken
very*
Ken
nice to meet u ken
yamini
What I know about the subjects is that you have to be a master on science and math, also if you know about aviation is better too
Ken
I read that the Russian language is very important, is not a requirement but it's like an extra point!
Ken
yeah like physics, chemistry and maths, they are my most favorite.
yamini
than you can go free of cost
Arush
Yes, That's right!
Ken
how
yamini
Oh! Free of cost?
Ken
hello yamini nice to meet you
Burak
what is time
Abdul Reply
Time is relative
mrunal
pls elaborate
sakshi
the clear defination.I know that.
Abdul
In planet mars there the life exits or not and is there water there
Eshwarsa Reply
see till now nothing can be found as u know that the curiosity rover has struck in mars
Maya
It has been proven that there are water molecules on Mars but not enough that most lifeforms could thrive upon.
Ariana
There are huge amounts of water in the ice caps and under the surface. The surface and chemistry indicate that Mars had cosiderable amounts of water on its surface in the past.
Julius
what is your opinion about the theory of Vedas about modern physics..
Manish Reply
i think in some ways vedas are also correct but not everytime
Maya
I agree
sakshi
hmm even I agree
Samuel
Is there any patened theory about time relativitg in growth and development?
donot Reply
some astronomer's says that there is no alien exist but why search for extra terrestrial intelligence center is established
Eshwarsa Reply
No One Knows That For Absolute Fact, The Universe Is Too Huge To Have Any Type Of Idea About What Exist In The Far Reaches Of Our Universe.....
Adam
Check Out The Drake Equation.....
Adam
their should be aliens as like ours there would be another planet
Maya
which could have existed life on it
Maya
adam i want to ask a question
Maya
can kepler 1st law be applied on all the planets of the universe
Maya
hello, anyone home?
Denise
sjskskfhjkkktewqqw and try?
Lanika Reply
what is this ?
Samuel
hi I am Samuel from India mumbai
Samuel
nice to meet you
Samuel
thats my question, what is this?
penzias and wilson's a discovery of the cosmic microwave background is a nice example of scientific serendipity-something that is found by chance but turns out to have a positive outcome
Jacqueline Reply
how should I make my carrier in astronomy
Ayush Reply
I think that Newton's third law is not appropriate if any also thinks like this please reply me
Ayush
Can you explain your reasoning
Huh
why u think so
joseph
yes Ayush u are right
Yoganshu
I think when we apply force to a object it start moving but , a/c to Newton's third law every action has equal and opposite reaction,so object should also exert equal force on us and it should not move due to balanced force
Ayush
if I am not right then reply me
Ayush
no
Zack
because of friction that opposes that force and help us to move ahead
Manish
but this is not satisfied as third law say another thing
Ayush
you are telling why object moves
Ayush
you have to think a/c to third law
Ayush
its because of its mass
Maya
because it is applying equal and opposite force but also our mass is also less in comparison to the object
Maya
which is why we cant move the object but it can make move us
Maya
manish is too correct in his place because we need to apply force which would overcome the frictional force
Maya
My dear friends, can u plz tell me that among u guys who are in the field of cosmology
Madhav Reply
😢I am not there in cosmology
Samuel
Just A Science Fan.....
Adam
Adam even I am 😥😅😅😂😂
Samuel
I am also not in cosmology but I am just a fan or we can say science and part of NASA is my dream
Yoganshu
yoganshu Arya same here
Samuel
you are from which country
Yoganshu
hi yoganshu
Samuel
India
Samuel
which state
Samuel
I am also from India
Yoganshu
from delhi
Yoganshu
and u...?
Yoganshu
I am from Maharashtra
Samuel
from which state?
Yoganshu
You are a ASTRONOMER ...
Yoganshu
or a scientist..
Yoganshu
or just a member
Yoganshu
What is time...? not about Newton= time is constant..... that all scientists openions n point of view I m knowing. . what can be the Perfect Definition of Time
Madhav Reply
time is what clock reads
Ayush
Who is the best astronomer of India at present time
Gian Reply
Jayant Narlikar, Proponent Of Steady State Cosmology.....
Adam
What is the real colour of sun rays
Gian Reply
white.. so white it becomes violet.. so violet it become ultraviolet
Tom
white and red and yellow
Bianca
Vibgyor
Samuel
the real colour of sunlight is White
Madhav
the Sun's has a variety of waves all throughout the elextromagnetic spectrum.
Jacie
we only see it as a few bc of how some of them get redshifted (? can that term be applied for something so local?) by some particles in our upper atmosphere
Jacie
Vibgyor will be when, the white light will pass through the clouds ( prism ) then Refraction phenomenon leads us to 7 colours splitting from a single colour "White " light
Madhav
so the sun rays r of White colour
Madhav
Taurus in astronomy and horoscope?
Yasser Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Astronomy. OpenStax CNX. Apr 12, 2017 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11992/1.13
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