Astronomers Analyze Electromagneti Emissions of Stars and Constellations

Astronomers Analyze Electromagneti Emissions of Stars and Constellations

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In order to glean information about stars, astronomers analyze electromagnetic emissions, or the light, that reaches Earth. A spectroscope is basically a device that focuses a beam of light through a prism, which divides the light into characteristic colors that can then be seen using an eyepiece or screen. The resulting spectrum is used to determine the chemical composition of stars. The lines on the spectrum, or spectral lines, are associated with known elements. In 1868, an unknown element was discovered and given the name helium. It was almost thirty years before the element would be detected on Earth (McMillan, 2011).
The accepted classification scheme is a combination of two, the Harvard system types stars based on surface temperature and the MK system, which types stars based on luminosity. In the 1880s, the Henry Draper catalogue of stars was being compiled at the Harvard College Observatory. During this time, more types of stars were discovered and labeled using letters of the alphabet based on hydrogen spectral line strength. Eventually, the types were listed in non-alphabetical order based on surface temperature, resulting in the O, B, A, F, G, K, M classification system. This order of stellar types ranges from O, bluish-white stars with surface temperatures from twenty-five thousand degrees Kelvin to fifty thousand degrees Kelvin, to M, red stars with surface temperatures of approximately three thousand degrees Kelvin. The Sun is a type G star (Stellar Classification, 2014).
Stars are born, evolve, and after millions or billions of years they die. Stars are formed in vast interstellar molecular clouds when gravity overpowers heat, which leads to disequilibrium in the cloud and causes contract...


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...ook (The Almagest) in 150 AD that summarized Greek astronomical knowledge. It catalogued one thousand twenty-two stars, with estimates of their brightness, arranged in the forty-eight original constellations. Ancient Greeks named stars according to their position in a constellation, for example a star in the Taurus the Bull constellation was known as “the reddish one on the southern eye”, this star’s Arabic is name is Aldebaran. In the tenth century, Al-Sufi, one of the greatest Arabic astronomers, published his version of The Almagest where he introduced the names of individual stars. Bedouin Arabs thought single stars represented people and animals, so they named them. While some of the star names in Al-Sufi’s book were translations of Ptolemy’s descriptions, many of the original meanings of the star names had long been forgotten (Constellations: FAQs, n.d.).

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