What would happen if two stars collided? (Intermediate)

What would happen if stars collided? I am a 7th grader and we are learning about stars. I am just curious about this question maybe I could explain the answer to the class when you would please send me it. Thank you very much!!!

The answer to your question depends on the sort of star you are talking about. Normal stars like our Sun are called main sequence stars by astronomers. They would only merge in places where there are a lot of stars in a small volume - and there are such places - we call them globular clusters. It seems that when stars merge in globular clusters they combine to form one star which is unexpectedly hot and bright for it's age and so we can notice them in globular clusters (and call them 'blue stragglers' since hot stars are blue). Some people work on simulating this sort of thing in computers. Below I include a link to one of them - who is an ex-Cornell graduate student! :)

Web site with movies of simulations of merging main sequence stars.

We also have answers up on our site as to what would happen if white dwarfs (cold dense 'dead stars' like what our Sun will turn into in a few billion years) collided, and what would happen if black holes collided. The links are included below. For interest I also include an link to an answer about what happens when galaxies collide. Collisions happen to a much larger fraction of galaxies than of stars!


This page updated on June 27, 2015

About the Author

Karen Masters

Karen Masters

Karen was a graduate student at Cornell from 2000-2005. She went on to work as a researcher in galaxy redshift surveys at Harvard University, and is now on the Faculty at the University of Portsmouth back in her home country of the UK. Her research lately has focused on using the morphology of galaxies to give clues to their formation and evolution. She is the Project Scientist for the Galaxy Zoo project.

Twitter:  @KarenLMasters
Website:  http://icg.port.ac.uk/~mastersk/

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