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Learn about planets outside our solar system through Exoplanets and Alien Solar Systems by Tahir Yaqoob, Ph.D., a book in our online store book collection.

Exploratour: A Peek Into the Lives of the Stars

This cartoon shows what happens to stars that are about the same size as the sun.

As they get older, the star gets bigger and redder and cooler. The outer gas layers of the star blow off in a high speed wind. We can see this gas for a long time from the Earth. It is called a planetary nebula.

The inner part of the star is left behind. We call it a white dwarf. It is very hot and very small compared to a star. Only about the size of the Earth.

But the matter that makes up the white dwarf is like nothing you've ever seen before. If you took a piece of the white dwarf about the size of a marble, it would weigh as much as the largest elephant at the zoo.

Last modified May 10, 2010 by Randy Russell.

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ExploraTour - Looking at the World in a Different Light

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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