Looking up to the sky and knowing that there is a whole universe out there is a scary thought, but it is also one of the most fascinating. Planets, possible alien life, the moon, the sun, the stars, it all seems so out of reach.
We are able to see the moon, the sun, and the stars from our bedroom windows, so surely we must be able to get closer to them?
Stars are one of the most beautiful parts of this universe as they light up a dark sky and provide us with endless imagination and fascination.
You can never get tired of watching the stars as, for a moment, it is hard to believe that they even exist. You watch people in movies trying ‘to catch a falling star’, which brings us to the inevitable question. Is it possible to touch a star?
Many scientists have looked into whether it is possible to touch a star, but of course, the mission would have its drawbacks. Stars are a million miles away and they generate a lot of heat, so there are definitely risks in wishing to touch a star.
Take a look at all of the possibilities on whether or not it is possible to touch a star and prepare to have your mind blown.
What Are Stars Made From?
Stars are big balls of gas that are constantly exploding. The main gases in stars are hydrogen and helium which sets off a nuclear reaction inside the star which causes constant explosions.
Despite constantly exploding, stars will take billions of years to burn out because they have so much fuel inside of them that they are able to just keep on exploding.
How Hot Are Stars?
In a turn of events, it is the red stars that are the coolest and the blue stars that have the highest temperatures. Red dwarf stars have a surface temperature of around 3,500 Kelvin as red dwarf’s use their hydrogen storages very slowly.
The hottest stars, the blue stars, have a starting temperature of 10,000 Kelvin, but there are some blue stars that are more than 40,000 Kelvin.
This is due to the amount of energy coming from the blue stars being so great that our eyes cannot see that high into the color spectrum. Therefore, some blue stars may be classified as ultraviolet.
Does This Mean That Touching A Star Is Impossible?
Touching a star in the sky with your bare hands is impossible because the stars are so hot that they would burn you.
However, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe managed to touch the Sun, the first probe to touch a star in outer space.
By touching the Sun, scientists will now be able to discover more about our closest star to Earth as NASA has been able to sample particles and magnetic fields from the Sun by the Parker Solar Probe.
The Parker Solar Probe had to survive extreme conditions to be able to reach the Sun, but what did it have to endure?
The Parker Solar Probe had to withstand a possible temperature reach of 1,371 degrees Celsius, which is hot enough to melt steel. It also had to survive sunlight up the 3,000 times more powerful than the sunlight on Earth.
The probe had to be protected by a Thermal Protection System, which is a special heat shield to prevent it from melting in the extreme heat.
The Thermal Protection System was made from 4.5 inches of carbon foam between 2 carbon composite sheets that made the Thermal Protection System around 8ft wide.
It acted as a shield to the probe to deflect solar energy that may melt the probe, and along with the water cooling system, this kept the probe cool in the heat.
Are There Any Stars Cool Enough To Touch?
The answer, surprisingly, is yes. Except, you wouldn’t be able to actually touch them. Scientists have discovered stars called brown dwarfs are the coolest stars in the universe, but have since discovered Y-dwarfs.
Y-dwarfs are the coldest members of the brown dwarf family that are cooler than the human body. This means that Y-dwarfs are the coolest stars in the universe as some are room temperature.
Brown dwarfs are referred to as ‘failed stars’ as they have low-density bodies that prevent them from fusing atoms at their cores so they are unable to keep burning heat as other stars do.
Brown dwarfs are hotter than Y-dwarfs but are still cooler than most stars in the universe as they still don’t burn enough heat. Brown dwarfs and Y-dwarfs tend to fade as they are unable to keep burning, so they are very hard to find.
Hold A Dead Star In Your Hand
Although this is not referencing a real-life star to hold in your hand, there is a pretty good second place option that will make you feel as though you are touching an actual star.
The star in question is the exploded Cassiopeia A, and you are able to hold an exact replica of it in your hands.
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory was able to capture images of Cassiopeia A, a dead star that is 10,000 light-years away from Earth.
The X-ray image of Cassiopeia A picks up photons that are then coded into data that determines the time, energy, and position of each photon in the image.
Using the Doppler effect along with simple geometry, it is possible to 3-D print the Cassiopeia A.
Having the 3-D model of Cassiopeia A allows scientists to closely look at the formation of the dead star and allows you to technically hold the remains of a dead star in the palm of your hand.
Although holding a real-life star is pretty much out of the question, it is impossible to not remain fascinated with the stars.
As stars are exploding balls of hydrogen and helium, the constant nuclear reactions and high temperatures make them impossible to touch as they would instantly burn you.
Touching the Sun is even less likely as the extreme conditions to get to the Sun would be impossible for humans to survive.
When we look at the journey by the Parker Solar Probe to touch the Sun, this is an amazing advancement in space science.
Scientists are now able to further explore the physical form of the Sun and this is the first time a live star has ever been touched. As it is possible to touch a star with a NASA probe, this will further advance space science and exploration.
As brown dwarfs are the coolest stars in the universe, you probably think that you would be able to touch them with a human hand. Unfortunately, the answer is still no. Brown dwarfs still have a higher temperature than we think, but Y-dwarfs are cooler again.
If you want to touch a star with a human hand, your best bet is to hold a 3-D replica of a star like the Cassiopeia A model.
This will give you an indication of a real-life star without the burning, the unsurvivable trip to the Sun, and not being able to hold the gases that the stars are made out of!
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