Thousands of stars, including our sun, destined to turn into crystals

earthsky.org | 1/12/2019 | Eleanor Imster
joseph76 (Posted by) Level 3
Click For Photo: https://en.es-static.us/upl/2019/01/interior-white-dwarf-star-solidifying-illustration-300x225.jpg

Artist’s concept of an evolved star – called white dwarf – in the process of solidifying into a crystal. Image via University of Warwick/Mark Garlick.

Astronomers at the University of Warwick said this week they now have the first direct evidence that white dwarf stars – stars in an advanced stage of their evolution – ultimately solidify into crystals. That idea has been around for decades, but now new observations back it up. The astronomers who conducted this study say our skies must be filled with these crystal white dwarfs. They also point out that – long after it has swollen up as a red giant and swallowed the Earth – our sun is destined to become a crystal white dwarf, too, billions of years from now.

Models - Home - Galaxy - Milky - Way

Current models of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, suggest our galaxy alone currently contains about 10 billion white dwarfs. They are the hot, dense remnants of long-dead stars, essentially stellar cores, left behind after a star has exhausted its fuel supply and blown its bulk of gas and dust into space.

These exotic objects mark the final stage of evolution for most stars in the universe, including our sun.

Study - Dwarfs - Age - Milky - Way

According to the new study, the oldest white dwarfs, nearly the age of the Milky Way galaxy itself, are likely to be almost fully crystal already.

The astronomers selected 15,000 white dwarf candidates within around 300 light-years of Earth from observations made by the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite. They then analyzed Gaia’s data on the stars’ luminosities and colors. The analysis showed that white dwarfs have a core of solid oxygen and carbon. This is due, the astronomers say, to a phase transition during their lifecycle similar to water turning into ice but at much higher temperatures.

Work - Dwarfs

The work showed these white dwarfs are likely older than previously...
(Excerpt) Read more at: earthsky.org
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