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The Question

(Submitted October 06, 2003)

Can the stars change colour? I know that they can due to temperature change, but how would this change occur?

The Answer

The color of a star is linked to its temperature and its temperature is linked to what processes are taking place in and on the surface of the star. Stars evolve during their lives, going through different phases of elements burning. Say a star has finished burning its hydrogen and goes to the helium burning phase, this will change the temperature (hence the color) of the star.

Have a look at any book on the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram to get more information on the general evolution of the main sequence stars. For example, see:
http://zebu.uoregon.edu/~soper/Stars/hrdiagram.html

We hope this helps,

Ilana and Barbara
for the "Ask an Astrophysicist" team.

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