Star extraction is the essential procedure for attitude measurement of star sensor. The great challenge for star extraction is to segment star area exactly from various noise and background. In this paper, a novel star extraction method based on Modified Water Flow Model(MWFM) is proposed. The star image is regarded as a 3D terrain. The morphology is adopted for noise elimination and Tentative Star Area(TSA) selection. Star area can be extracted through adaptive water flowing within TSAs. This method can achieve accurate star extraction with improved efficiency under complex conditions such as loud noise and uneven backgrounds. Several groups of different types of star images are processed using proposed method. Comparisons with existing methods are conducted. Experimental results show that MWFM performs excellently under different imaging conditions. The star extraction rate is better than 95%. The star centroid accuracy is better than 0.075 pixels. The time-consumption is also significantly reduced.