First Direct Evidence Stars Like Our Sun Turn Into Crystals — SNAPSHOT

13 January, 2019, 08:12 | Author: Tara Reeves
  • White dwarf star in the process of solidifying

Astronomers at the University of Warwick have found first direct evidence of white dwarf stars solidifying into crystals and our skies are filled with them.

Prior to crystallization, atoms are thought to be packed so tightly in the core of a white dwarf that their electrons become unbound, leaving a conducting electron gas and positively charged nuclei in a fluid form.

White dwarfs are the remnants of dying stars of a size similar to the Sun. After that they resume cooling. Hydrogen fused into helium, and for billions and billions of years, the center of our solar system has blazed on.

If the stars did not crystallise they would cool at a steady rate, going from blue to orange to red and losing brightness along a smooth slope.

Though they look serene and silent from our vantage on Earth, stars are actually roiling balls of violent plasma.

Over the next five billion years it will cool down - in the process first expanding into a "red giant" - then shrinking down to a white dwarf and gradually harden and solidify.

Massive stars in the Universe die out with a great explosion that we call Supernova.

"This is the principal direct evidence that white dwarfs die, or change from liquid to solid", Dr. Dock Emmanuel Tremblay from the University of Warwick's Department of Physics said in an announcement.

They identified a pile-up, an excess in the number of stars at specific colors and luminosities that do not correspond to any single mass or age. Before Gaia we had 100-200 white dwarfs with precise distances and luminosities - and now we have 200,000. In the process, they uncovered a "pile-up" of stars with colors and luminosities that matched those predicted for crystallized white dwarfs.

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That, in turn, has an impact on our understanding of the stellar groupings these white dwarfs are a part of. But that's not what the Gaia data show.

The researchers analyzed a whopping 15,109 white dwarfs and mapped their luminosities and colors and saw a odd group of data points sticking out.

"White dwarfs are traditionally used for age-dating of stellar populations such as clusters of stars, the outer disk, and the halo in our Milky Way", Dr. Tremblay said.

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Not all white dwarfs crystallise at the same pace.

And there are billions of similar sparkling crystal spheres in the Milky Way alone.

There are billions of white dwarves out there that have already gone through this process, astral remnants haunting our galaxy like freakish crystal ghosts.

"All white dwarfs [like our Sun] will crystallize at some point in their evolution, although more massive white dwarfs go through the process sooner". White dwarfs with lower masses, closer to the expected end stage of the Sun, cool in a slower fashion, requiring up to six billion years to turn into dead solid spheres.

'The sun itself will become a crystal white dwarf in about 10 billion years'.

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