Life cycle of a star


I have made some detailed revision cards on the life cycle of stars Hope they help!

Please comment and rate, Thanks :)

1st Stage= Nebula

Massive clouds of dust and gas(mainly hydrgen) swirl in together due to gravitational attraction.

A large ball of gas forms in the very centre of this cloud of dust and gas. 

This is called a nebula.

1 of 12

2nd Stage= Protostar

As the nebula gets denser, more gas is pulled in.

It gets hotter and hotter.

This is a protostar.

So much heat and pressure builds up that nuclear fusion of hydrogen occurs, this forms helium.

A star is born.

2 of 12

3rd Stage= Main sequence star

This is the main part of the cycle and usually last around 10-12billion years.

Gravity pulls inward but the energy produced from fusion pushes out against the gravity. These forces are balanced and keep the star stable.

Masses of heat and light are given off from the fusion of both hydrogen and helium.

This fusion (of helium and hydrogen) forms all the lighter elements above helium and hydrgen, like carbon and oxygen ect.
(Our sun is a going through this part of its life, it has already been 5billion years into the main sequence)

3 of 12

Small Stars








4 of 12

4th Stage= Red giant

Eventually a star starts to die.

Hydrogen starts running out because too much fusion goes on.

After fusion, the star does not have much energy so it starts to cool down.

Whilst it cools the star expands and swells into a red giant.

Soon, the outer layers break away from the nebula.

5 of 12

5th Stage= White dwarf

All that remains after the red giant has collapses is the white hot core.

This is the white dwarf.

6 of 12

6th Stage= Black dwarf

Soon the white hot core begins to cool.

This is now a black dwarf.

7 of 12

Big stars

This next part applies to big stars only;

These stages come after the main sequence stage.

8 of 12

4th Stage= Red super giant

Bigger stars also cool, much in the same way as a small star cools.

This forms a red super giant.

Because they are big, they can fuse heavier nuclei together.

9 of 12

5th Stage= Supernova

The star the explodes in a gigantic explosion called a supernova.

This creates lots and lots of light energy.

All the elemenst heavier than iron are created here, due to more fusion.

A supernova is very dense and has a strong gravitaional field.

10 of 12

6th Stage1= Neutron star

During a supernova, the core of the star is crushed down due to large gravitational force.

This can form a dense star called a neutron star, this type of star is made up of only neutrons.

11 of 12

6th Stage2= Black hole

If the star is even bigger, a black hole can be formed.

The core of the star is crushed down, this is the black hole. 

The black hole is very very small.

The gravitaional pull is so strong that nothing can escape, not even light (hence its name).

12 of 12




This is really helpful, because i was doing a past paper the other day and i was asked to write in detail the life cycle of a star and how everything happens, now i know how :):)

Thanks :P

:) PurpleJaguar (: - Team GR


I'm glad it helped :)



thanks this is the best Stars revision tool ive helpful :D

Similar Physics resources:

See all Physics resources »See all Astronomy resources »