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How stars work was a mystery until the early 20th century when astronomers learned to decode stars’ spectra. Spectroscopy allowed stars’ chemical make-up, temperature, and luminosity to be directly measured. Thanks to a spectral classification system developed by
Annie Jump Cannon, and the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram, it became possible to understand how stars are classified, and how stars live and evolve from the main sequence to red giant to white dwarfs.
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