A Simple H-R Diagram
Once you know the luminosity and temperature (or color) of a star, you can plot
the star as a point on the H-R diagram. Plot the luminosity on the y-axis
with brighter stars going toward the top. Since brighter stars have
lower magnitudes, if you choose to plot magnitude on the y-axis, the
values will decrease as you go up! That's OK - just remember that the luminosity of
the star is increasing.
Plot temperature on the x-axis. However, since we can't know a star's real
temperature, you should instead plot color (either the traditional b-v or SDSS's
g-r) on the x-axis. Traditionally, hotter stars have been placed at the
left of the chart and cooler stars to the right. Even though the
temperature decreases as you move the the right, the b-v and g-r
values will increase. So you should make your H-R diagram with b-v or g-r increasing
to the right.
The first H-R diagram you should try is one for the brightest stars in the sky.
The table below shows the 26 brightest stars in the sky. Instead of plotting their
luminosities (which are so large that they're hard to visualize), plot the stars'
absolute magnitudes. Absolute mangitude is defined as the magnitude that a star would
have if you saw it from a distance of 10 parsecs (about 32 light-years). Stars with
higher luminosities put out more light, so they are brighter - they have
lower apparent magnitudes. Stars with lower luminosities put out less light, so they
are dimmer - they have higher absolute magnitudes.
The table below shows the 26 brightest stars, giving their names, apparent
magnitudes, absolute magnitudes, and b-v colors.
If you want more stars, there is a list of the 314 brightest stars
Make an H-R diagram for the brightest stars by graphing
b-v and absolute magnitude for the 26 stars above. Use a graphing
program to make your diagram. For help on how to make a
graph using Microsoft Excel, see SkyServer's
Question 1. Do
you see any groups of stars that appear to have something in common?
Sketch a box around those groups.
Question 2. The stars in the
upper right of the diagram are very bright but are also very cool. If
the stars are cool, why do you think they are so bright?
Question 3. Where does our sun plot on
this diagram? Is it hotter or cooler than average? Does it emit more or less
light than average?
Question 4. Do you think your diagram
constitutes a good random
sample of stars? Why or why not?