Throwing Shade at the Sun: Ranking All the Different Types of Stars

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 11:06 PM

By Neel V. Patel There are an estimated one billion trillion stars in the universe. (That'south a one followed by twenty-one zeros.) Each one is unique, but, generally speaking, you can divvy them up into special classes, based on a certain set of criteria.

Throwing Shade at the Sun: Ranking All the Different Types of Stars

This article was originally posted on Inverse.

By Neel V. Patel

There are an estimated one billion trillion stars in the universe. (That'south a one followed by twenty-one zeros.) Each one is unique, but, generally speaking, you can divvy them up into special classes, based on a certain set of criteria. This helps scientists to better wrap their heads around what kind of characteristics to expect when watching and observing those huge balls of hot plasma hanging around in space.

These classifications are largely centered around spectral characteristics, which comes down to the type of electromagnetic radiation the star is spitting out (i. e. it'south color) based on its ionization state. The spectral state is generally a beautiful excellent indication of a star'south average temperature and density.

But, more importantly, the classifications grant us a very human opportunity to be judgmental and rank the different classes of stars based on arbitrary criteria. So, without further ado, here'south a subjective ranking of the classes outlined below the Harvard spectral classification system -- one of the more favorite modern systems used by astronomers.

seven. M


Artist'south conception of star SO25300.five+one hundred sixty-five thousand two hundred fifty-eight, a red dwarf.

You might better know M class stars based on their ruddy color. Here'south why they're in latest place: They're the most common stars found in the universe, making up about seventy-six % of all main-sequence stars. They've the minimum quantity of brightness. With a range of just three.860 to six.200 degrees Fahrenheit, they're the chilliest stars out there. For all these reasons, they're in last place.

The only redeeming qualities of M stars is that some of them happen to be large as fuck. Ever hear of the duration Ruddy Supergiant? That'south when a scarce form of these babies swells up to something between ten and forty times the size of our own star. Cool, right? But that'south also kind of obnoxious, if we're being real.

6. K


Artist'south impression of a K class star.

These glowing oranges create up about one in every eight stars. Some are giant, but most actually have about twenty to fifty-five % less mass than the sun. They're hotter than Ms, but colder than yellow stars love the sun.

K class stars are actually beautiful boring in nearly all respects except one: scientists looking for aliens on other planets are obsessed with them. With temperatures of about 6.200 to 8.900 degree Fahrenheit, they allow a beautiful optimal environment for any planets nearby trying to lift some organisms. So exoplanet researchers obtain particularly jazzed about studying star systems hosted by Ks.

five. G


Transit of Venus in Front of the Sun

Don't know what a G class star looks like? See up. Our Sunday is a G (ain't that the truth, amirite??), and so are about 7.5 % of other main-sequence stars. Other well-known Gs comprise Alpha Centauri A, Tau Ceti, and fifty-one Pegasi. The vast majority are beautiful much the size of the sun.

So why slot G stars at no 5? Well, they obtain points on the board for being excellent for the evolution of life (exhibit A: EARTH), but apart from that, they suffer from the same problem that Ks do -- they're kind of boring. Gs are a beautiful stable class of star. They're the type you'd wish to marry, sure -- but if you're trying to go out for the night and have some fun, you'll wish to choose something a little exciting.

four. F


Canopus, an F-type supergiant

They're not quite white, and they're not quite yellow -- they're yellow-white. Fs can heat up to about 13.000 degrees Fahrenheit, so they're typically a small more fiery than something love the sun. The white glow is due to the ionization of neutral metals love iron and chromium. Fs aren't very common -- only about one in every thirty-three stars is an F.

The chances a planetary system with an Fahrenheit can support life? Not great.

3. A


Artist'south impression of Sirius A and Sirius B. Sirius A, an A-type main-sequence star, is the larger of the two.

These guys are white. That'south just their thing. A class stars are fairly rare -- comprising just 0.625 % of all main sequence stars -- but they're a beautiful shining bunch. They're generally about 13.000 to 17.500 degrees Fahrenheit. The As also tend to rotate really quickly, allowing them to spew off excess heat and radiation. Again, this is horrible for habitability, but grand for an exciting night.

two. B


Artist'south impression of a B class star.

B class stars are probably the most pretty type of stars you'll obtain to see. Their very shining light gives off a wonderful blue-white hue, with high amounts of energy and temperatures that go up to an insane 53.500 degrees Fahrenheit. They generally boast masses between two and sixteen times that of the sun, and give off beautiful powerful stellar winds. They're beautiful scarce (about one in eight-hundredth) but they're tough to miss when you're peering off into space.

All of that energy also means they don't tend to live as long as the other forms of stars. The only ones that seem to discard more energy and burn out faster are ...

one. O


Alcyone, an O class blue giant

Recollect that elderly Neil Youthful line, "It'south better to burn out than to wither away"? These stars embody that ethos love it'south the finish of the world. And, for Os, it kind of is: They've extremely brief lifespans compared to all other stars.

On the plus side, however, these blue balls are the brightest, most powerful of all the other stellar classes. They create up just 0.00003 % of all other stars. They reach temperatures hotter than 53.500 degrees Fahrenheit. They're incredibly dense, containing about sixteen times the mass of our sun.

In short, O class stars are treasures of the universe. That'south why they're number 1.

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Photos via NASA/Walt Feimer and Screenshot from YouTube and Ed Schipul and NASA and NASA, ESA and G. Bacon and NASA, ESA, AURA/Caltech, Palomar Observatory and ESA/Hubble

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