Hey, Low Mass Star....This is your life!
This model shows the discrete stages that a low mass star goes
through over billions of years, from its beginnings as a gas cloud, to its
death as a black dwarf.
* tissue paper and cotton batting
* string of indoor Christmas lights with white, red, orange, and yellow
* different-sized spherical light globes either clear or white (ranging
from 1 to 5 inches in
diameter; these can be found in any store selling light fixtures)
* opaque black ball (or you could paint a light globe)
1. Punch 6 holes in a piece of cardboard or cotton batting and insert
one of the lights through each hole. You might need to tape them in
2. To show the birth of a star as a hot gas cloud, wrap the outside of
a globe in cotton and place it over the first bulb of the string of
3. For a newborn star, have an orange light inside a 3-inch globe.
4. For a steady star, have a yellow light inside a 2-inch globe.
5. For a red giant, have a red light inside a 5-inch globe.
6. For a planetary nebula, have a red light inside a 3-inch globe. Wrap
crumpled tissue paper around the outside of the globe.
7. For a white dwarf, have a white light inside a 1-inch globe.
8. For a black dwarf, have a 1 inch black opaque globe. No lights
should be used for the black dwarf.
The globes used for the various stages are not to scale. Do a simple
calculation to see why...if a steady star is 1.4 million km in diameter
(and represented by a 2-inch globe), how big would the red giant globe
have to be on the same scale? You might need to refer back to the
information in Section II to help you.
Download a pdf version.