Stellar Evolution: Pathways & Perturbations

Small perturbations can lead to major changes in the long run, but these changes usually only affect a small fraction of the star's mass. For extremely high mass stars, trajectories may be more unpredictable. In summary, the trajectories of stars on the HR diagram are based on the assumption that stars of similar mass and composition will follow similar pathways, but small perturbations and unmodeled effects can still lead to variations.
  • #1
Simfish
Gold Member
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stellar evolution pathways...?

I find this especially interesting since the trajectories of stars on the HR diagram are more or less based on this assumption.

But obviously, small perturbations can lead to major changes in the long-run. But it seems that most of those changes involve only a small fraction of mass of the star (for example, star spots don't seem to change the star significantly). But perhaps trajectories are more unpredictable for extremely high mass stars?
 
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  • #2
Simfish said:
Will two stars of the exact same mass and chemical composition undergo identical stellar evolution pathways...?

I find this especially interesting since the trajectories of stars on the HR diagram are more or less based on this assumption.

No. They are based on the assumption that stars of similar mass and composition will follow similar stellar evolution pathways, and moreover, that a averaging things out over lots and lots of stars will minimize variations due to unmodeled effects such as rotation rate, magnetic field, companion stars, etc.
 

Related to Stellar Evolution: Pathways & Perturbations

1. What is stellar evolution?

Stellar evolution is the process by which a star changes over time, from its formation to its death. This process is driven by the star's internal structure and its interactions with its environment.

2. What are the main stages of stellar evolution?

The main stages of stellar evolution are protostar, main sequence, red giant, planetary nebula, and white dwarf. These stages vary depending on the mass of the star, with larger stars undergoing additional stages such as supernova and neutron star or black hole formation.

3. How do perturbations affect stellar evolution?

Perturbations, or disturbances in the environment of a star, can have a significant impact on its evolution. For example, a close encounter with another star can lead to the formation of binary systems or even cause a star to be ejected from its galaxy. Additionally, perturbations can affect the rate of fusion within a star, altering its lifespan and ultimate fate.

4. What are the pathways of stellar evolution?

The pathways of stellar evolution refer to the different routes a star can take as it evolves, depending on its mass. For low-mass stars like our Sun, the pathway typically involves becoming a red giant and eventually a white dwarf. Higher mass stars can undergo more extreme transformations such as supernova explosions, neutron star or black hole formation.

5. Why is studying stellar evolution important?

Studying stellar evolution allows us to better understand the formation and structure of stars, as well as the evolution of galaxies and the universe as a whole. It also helps us to predict the future of our own Sun and other stars, and explore the potential for habitable planets in other star systems.

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