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What Causes Stars To Twinkle Different Colors?
This is due to multiple factors; scintillation causes chromatic aberration, which is the inability of a lens (our eyes) to focus all colors to the same focal point. Dispersion is what makes this occur, which is when the wavelengths of light alternate with the refractive index of the lens. When stars display different colors, this is due to the star’s temperature and if the star has any other elements in its atmosphere.
Cooler stars tend to display a red color, while hotter stars will scintillate a blue or white color.
Red stars are around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the Earth’s Sun is approximately 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, green stars are 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the hottest stars, white and blue, are about 45,000 degrees Fahrenheit and above.
Other factors can include the distance of the star from the Earth and the age of the star.
When you look up in the night sky, you may see some really bright stars, and then some that look dim or have a weaker twinkle to them.
It could be because one star is further away; it could also be that its life cycle is coming to an end.
Once again, temperature changes within the star are a primary indicator of its bright color.
So, if the star is dying out, it’s getting cooler, and it has a red flicker that seems a bit dim.
Our own Sun has its yellow, orange color due to its average temperature being around 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
To recap on this section, it all comes down to the temperature and atmospheric elements of every star for each color.
The brightest stars will be the closest, youngest, and hottest stars, while the dimmest will be the farthest, oldest, and cooler stars.
While the dispersion of light changes is due to the star’s distance from Earth and chromatic aberration of the light through the atmosphere.
What Are Some Main Characteristics of Star Colors
Star colors can be correlated to a few main factors like the temperature and mass of the star, whether it be a Dwarf or a Supergiant.
When it comes to red stars, the cooler of the ranks, it’s common to find some titanium oxide molecular bands, while in orange and yellow, you’ll discover absorption lines of neutral metallic atoms.
Once you get up to the hottest stars, or white and blue, you’ll find much more extreme characteristics like a powerful UV continuum, helium lines in absorption or, ionized helium lines in emission or absorption.
This is all depending on multiple factors like luminosity, mass, and surface temperatures of each star.
Additionally, there are different types of stars.
For example, our Sun is a Dwarf star and one of the smallest there is. When it comes to the largest, the Super Giant takes the cake.
Betelgeuse is the second brightest star in the Orion constellation and one of the brightest in the night sky while making it relatively easy to see.
Although our Sun is hotter than this star, Betelgeuse is around 1,000 times larger.
Factors like these could also affect how bright a star is compared to another, not only by temperature, age, and atmospheric factors but by the type of star.
It should also be noted that the blue spectrum within stars has a wide range in luminosity.
Blue stars can range from a luminosity of 80-1,400,000, while the red to white color spectrum only goes from a luminosity of 0.4-6.
Those numbers alone can help explain why one star is brighter than the other and can help you understand what type of star it is based on how bright it is in combination with its color.
It’s interesting how a variety of natural elements from our planet to outer space can create such a spectacular visual show in the night sky, and none of it would be visible if it weren’t for the Earth’s complex atmosphere.