Stars Like The Sun Become Giant Crystal Ball When They Die

Stars Like The Sun Become Giant Crystal Ball When They Die

Stars Like The Sun Become Giant Crystal Ball When They Die

Astronomers have discovered the first direct evidence of white dwarf stars solidifying into giant balls of crystallised elements, a process that was first predicted 50 years ago and defines the ultimate fate of the Sun. Using data from the ESA's Gaia satellite, an worldwide group of researchers claim to have found evidence that supports the theory that when massive white dwarf stars like our brilliant host (the Sun) burn out and die, they solidify into metallic crystals.

The heat released during this crystallization process, which lasts several billion years, seemingly slows down the evolution of the white dwarfs: the stars stop dimming and, as a result, appear up to two billion years younger than they actually are.

It was the luminosities and colors of particular stars that clued Dr. Tremblay's team into their crystallization, which is really just a fantastical-sounding word for the transition from liquid to solid (think water to ice).

In their research, scientists from the University of Warwick found that a large number of stars have been going through this process.

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Currently, our Sun is a yellow dwarf star. They are the rest of the centers of red goliaths after these colossal stars have passed on and shed their external layers and are always cooling as they discharge their accumulated warmth through the span of billions of years. More massive stars cool down more rapidly and will reach the temperature at which crystallisation happens in about one billion years.

The Gaia space telescope was trained by scientists on 15,000 white dwarf candidates that are around 300 light years of Earth.

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

'All white dwarfs will crystallise at some point in their evolution, although more massive white dwarfs go through the process sooner. Models suggest there are millions of solidified white dwarfs spinning throughout the cosmos.

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According to the authors of the new paper, the release of heat energy alone would not be enough to account for their observations. "This will push the carbon upward, and that separation will release gravitational energy".

Dr. Tremblay included that every single white dwarf will eventually crystallize, implying that "billions of white dwarfs in our universe have officially finished the procedure and are basically crystal spheres in the sky". Thanks to the precise measurements that it is capable of, we have understood the interior of white dwarfs in a way that we never expected.

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. "This experiment on ultra-dense matter is something that simply can not be performed in any laboratory on Earth".

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