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Red dwarf facts for kids

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A Planet as Big as Its Star
Red dwarf VB10 compared to Jupiter

A red dwarf is a kind of star. Red dwarf stars are smaller than half the size of the Sun. They are also cooler than most stars. Red dwarfs burn their fuel slowly, so they shine with less light than hot stars.

Red dwarf stars are the most common in our galaxy, at least near our sun. However, since red dwarf stars are cool and small, none can be found with the naked eye. The closest star to the Earth is named Proxima Centauri. The Latin word proxima means "nearest to". Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf.

Life and death

Red dwarfs can live trillions of years, much longer than brighter stars. A red dwarf dies when it burns all of its fuel. To start with, the fuel is the chemical element hydrogen. At present, no red dwarf star is known which has gone beyond this stage.

Red dwarfs are small stars that are around 0.2 solar mass (the sun is equal to 1 solar mass). This is small for a star but is still 60,000 times the mass of the Earth. They are formed in nebulas, like all stars are, and originally they are protostars. They start their nuclear fusion about 100,000 years after being created when they get their red glow, this is also where they get their heat. These stars burn at less than 4,000°K.

Even smaller stars are called brown dwarfs.

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