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The Question

(Submitted March 04, 1997)

Why does a star shine. Please answer at middle school level.

The Answer

Stars are giant balls of glowing gas. Stars shine because the gas inside them is so hot that a process called "nuclear fusion" takes place. Nuclear fusion is where 2 atoms come together (or "fuse") to form a different kind of atom; this process gives off a lot of energy that we can see as light.

You can find more about stars, what makes them shine, their life cycles, and more in our StarChild web site at:

http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/universe_level1/stars.html
and
http://starchild.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/StarChild/universe_level2/stars.html

I am sure that one of these 2 different levels of describing "what makes stars shine" will be what you need!

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