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Astronomy Vocabulary

Photosphere the luminous envelope of a star from which its light and heat radiate.
Chromosphere a reddish gaseous layer immediately above the photosphere of the sun or another star. Together with the corona, it constitutes the star's outer atmosphere.
Corona the rarefied gaseous envelope of the sun and other stars. The sun's corona is normally visible only during a total solar eclipse when it is seen as an irregularly shaped pearly glow surrounding the darkened disk of the moon.
Solar Wind the continuous flow of charged particles from the sun that permeates the solar system.
Sunspot a spot or patch appearing from time to time on the sun's surface, appearing dark by contrast with its surroundings.
Nuclear fusion a nuclear reaction in which atomic nuclei of low atomic number fuse to form a heavier nucleus with the release of energy.
Constellation a group of stars forming a recognizable pattern that is traditionally named after its apparent form or identified with a mythological figure. Modern astronomers divide the sky into eighty-eight constellations with defined boundaries.
Binary Star a system of two stars in which one star revolves around the other or both revolve around a common center.
Light year a unit of astronomical distance equivalent to the distance that light travels in one year, which is 9.4607 × 1012 km (nearly 6 trillion miles).
Apparent magnitude the magnitude of a celestial object as it is actually measured from the earth.
Absolute magnitude the magnitude (brightness) of a celestial object as it would be seen at a standard distance of 10 parsecs.
Main-sequence star A main sequence star is any star that is fusing hydrogen in its core and has a stable balance of outward pressure from core nuclear fusion and gravitational forces pushing inward.
Supergiant a very large star that is even brighter than a giant, often despite being relatively cool.
Nova a star showing a sudden large increase in brightness and then slowly returning to its original state over a few months.
Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram a two-dimensional graph, devised independently by Ejnar Hertzsprung (1873–1967) and Henry Norris Russell in which the absolute magnitudes of stars are plotted against their spectral types. Stars are found to occupy only certain regions of such a diagram
Protostar a contracting mass of gas that represents an early stage in the formation of a star, before nucleosynthesis has begun.
Supernova a star that suddenly increases greatly in brightness because of a catastrophic explosion that ejects most of its mass.
White dwarf a small very dense star that is typically the size of a planet. A white dwarf is formed when a low-mass star has exhausted all its central nuclear fuel and lost its outer layers as a planetary nebula.
Neutron Star celestial object ofsmall radius and very high density, composed of closely packed neuts. Neutron stars are thought to form by the gravit. collapse of the remnant of a massive star after a supernova expl. provided that the star is insuffi.
Black Hole a region of space having a gravitational field so intense that no matter or radiation can escape.
Galaxy a system of millions or billions of stars, together with gas and dust, held together by gravitational attraction.
Big Bang Theory a theory that deduces a cataclysmic birth of the universe (big bang) from the observed expansion of the universe, cosmic background radiation, abundance of the elements, and the laws of physics.
Created by: sheamcmahon