Stellar Guide

By Will Prieto

What are stars made of?

Stars are made up of many elements. The most dominant elements of all stars are hydrogen and helium. Other elements that stars can be made up of are carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur, magnesium, sulfur, silicon, neon and iron. Each one of these elements has a color that is seen when scientists point a spectroscope at the star, which causes the light from that star to shine through the spectroscope. That light is then put through a prism, and that prism separates the light, which allows us to see what the elements of that star are.
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How does this help astronomers?

This helps astronomers by telling us what the stars are made of. For example, we discovered that the Sun is made up of 70% of hydrogen, 28% helium, 1.5% of carbon, nitrogen and oxygen. The other 0.5% is made up of other small amounts of many other elements such as neon, iron, silicon, magnesium and sulfur. Astronomers can use this information to find out lots of things about stars, like their temperature, how far away they are, and their mass and gravity.
These are sample spectra from some elements found in stars:
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Just for fun, here is audio of the sound of space:
Voyager 1 PWS Continuation of Shock-Associated Signals