The who is who of stars
What does the 'family tree' of stars look like?
Development phases of stars in a diagram
At the beginning of the 20th century, a fundamental diagram in astronomy was created from the work of the Danish photochemist Ejnar Hertzsprung and the American astronomer Henry Norris Russell: the Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram, or HRD for short. The spectral class (or surface temperature) of stars is plotted on the horizontal axis of the diagram and the absolute brightness (or luminosity) of stars is plotted on its vertical axis. In the middle of the diagram we see many stars in an area that runs diagonally, known as the Main Sequence. Above this we see somewhat fewer stars with greater luminosity and generally a moderate temperature – the giants and supergiants. (See also: How long will the Sun continue to shine?) Below the Main Sequence sit the 'white dwarfs'.
Even if these names sound as if they come from a fairytale, the HRD describes the actual external condition of stars, which is related to the internal fusion processes at their cores. If we understand these processes, we can use the HRD to forecast the path of development of certain stars, for example our Sun, or to determine the age of star clusters.
Source: German Aerospace Center