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ExploraTour: A Peek into the Lives of the Stars

About 4 and a half billions years ago something interesting happened in an out-of-the-way part of the galaxy. The sun ignited at the center of a cloud of gas and dust. The rest, as they say, is history.

We now know that stars (the sun included) are born in dust clouds, redden and swell to many times their original size as they age, then end their lives in incredible explosions that leave the most bizarre objects in the universe behind.

They are the major engines for pumping out atoms heavier than hydrogen -- the stuff that makes up the Earth, its rocks, its oceans and its life forms -- even the two-legged variety reading this page.

How about that . . . you are from outer space after all!

Click ahead to find out more.

Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!

Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games section of our online store includes a climate change card game and the Traveling Nitrogen game!

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Cool It! Game

Check out our online store - minerals, fossils, books, activities, jewelry, and household items!...more

Starspots

You may have heard of sunspots that sometimes dot the "surface" of the nearest star, our Sun. Well, other stars have spots too. They are called starspots and are relatively cool, dark regions on the visible...more

The Oldest Light in the Universe

NASA scientists have taken a "snapshot" picture of the oldest light in the universe. The picture shows what is left of light given off during the big bang. The light is over 13 billion years...more

Space Weather throughout the Solar System

There is a giant magnetic "bubble" in space around the Sun. That "bubble" is called the heliosphere. In a sense, we Earthlings live within the outer atmosphere of our Sun. The solar...more

Atomic Physics & Particle Physics

Atoms and the tiny particles from which they are made strongly influence the world around us. The fields of atomic physics and particle physics help us understand the life cycles of stars, the forms of...more

Element (Chemical Element)

An element (also called a "chemical element") is a substance made up entirely of atoms having the same atomic number; that is, all of the atoms have the same number of protons. Hydrogen, helium, oxygen,...more

The Sun's Magnetic Field

The Sun has a very large and very complex magnetic field. The magnetic field at an average place on the Sun is around 1 Gauss, about twice as strong as the average field on the surface of Earth (around...more

ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

Even though the sleeping man is no longer on the bed, you can still see where he was lying down. The heat from his body warmed up the bed sheets which are now radiating infrared light toward your eyes....more

Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF