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Beyond Earthly Skies

Blue Dwarfs: Stars Yet To Be

8 Sep 2013, 22:00 UTC
Blue Dwarfs: Stars Yet To Be
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M-dwarfs, also known as red dwarfs, are by far the most common stars in the universe. Laughlin et al. (1997) performed stellar evolution calculations for M-dwarfs with masses in the range 0.08 to 0.25 solar mass. Our Sun has a main-sequence lifespan of 10 billion years. In comparison, these M-dwarfs have main-sequence lifespans that are measured in trillions of years. The reason is because unlike our Sun, M-dwarfs have fully convective interiors and this prevents helium produced from the fusion of hydrogen to accumulate at the core, allowing M-dwarfs to burn a larger proportion of their hydrogen before leaving the main sequence. A 0.08 solar mass M-dwarf has a main sequence lifespan of 12 trillion years.Figure 1: Artist’s depiction of the planetary system around a 0.13 solar mass M-dwarf known as Kepler-42. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.Figure 2: Evolution in the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram for stars with masses in the range 0.06 to 0.25 solar mass. Stars of less than 0.25 solar mass are not massive enough to evolve into red giants. The inset diagram shows the corresponding main-sequence lifetimes as a function of stellar mass. Note that a 0.08 solar mass M-dwarf has a remarkable main-sequence lifetime that exceeds 10 trillion years. (F. ...

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