Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home | Science |

White Dwarfs

Try this!

Using the H-R diagram below, compare the following properties of a white dwarf to those of a main sequence star such as our Sun. You must choose one value for each question.

An H-R Diagram, also know as the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, is of great importance in the study of stellar evolution. It is a two-dimensional graph that demonstrates the correlation between the spectral type, temperature and luminosity of stars. It shows that 90% of stars lie along a diagonal band known as the main sequence. Remaining stars also form their own individual bands in different spectral type areas of the graph.

HR Diagram

  1. Would a white dwarf have a larger or smaller proportion of hydrogen then a main sequence star?

  2. Would a white dwarf be larger or smaller in size than main sequence stars?

  3. Would the density of a white dwarf be lower or higher than a main sequence star?

  4. Would the luminosity of a white dwarf be lower or higher than a main sequence star of the same temperature?

This activity was developed by Jacqueline Slay, Largo High School, Largo, MD

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index