Summarize Written Text
Since the dawn of recorded civilization, stars played a key role in religion and proved vital to navigation, according to the International Astronomical Union Astronomy, the study of the heavens, may be the most ancient of the sciences. The invention of the telescope and the discovery of the laws of motion and gravity in the 17th century prompted the realization that stars were just like the sun, all obeying the same laws of physics. In the 19th century, photography and spectroscopy — the study of the wavelengths of light that objects emit — made it possible to investigate the compositions and motions of stars from afar, leading to the development of astrophysics. A star develops from a giant, slowly rotating cloud that is made up entirely or almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Due to its own gravitational pull, the cloud begins to collapse inward, and as it shrinks, it spins more and more quickly, with the outer parts becoming a disk while the innermost parts become a roughly spherical clump. According to NASA, this collapsing material grows hotter and denser, forming a ball-shaped protostar. When the heat in the protostar reaches about 1.8 million degrees Fahrenheit (1 million degrees Celsius), atomic nuclei that normally repel each other start fusing together, and the star ignites. Nuclear fusion converts a small amount of the mass of these atoms into extraordinary amounts of energy — for instance, 1 gram of mass converted entirely to energy would be equal to an explosion of roughly 22,000 tons of TNT. The life cycles of stars follow patterns based mostly on their initial mass. These include intermediate-mass stars such as the sun, with half to eight times the mass of the sun, high-mass stars that are more than eight solar masses, and low-mass stars a tenth to half a solar mass in size. The greater a star's mass, the shorter its lifespan generally is, according to NASA. Objects smaller than a tenth of a solar mass do not have enough gravitational pull to ignite nuclear fusion — some might become failed stars known as brown dwarfs.