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Astronomers Spot a White Dwarf Star

Astronomers have discovered the smallest, most massive white Dwarf Star. The study was published in the journal Nature. The very special star has a mass greater than that of our sun, all packed into a relatively small body, similar in size to our moon.

It formed when two less massive white Dwarf Star, which spent their lives as a pair orbiting around each other, collided and merged. At the end of their lives, the vast majority of stars become white dwarfs, which are essentially flaming corpses, in addition to being one of the densest objects in the universe alongside black holes and neutron stars. In about 5 billion years, our Sun will become a red giant before ultimately suffering the same fate.

The lead author Ilaria Caiazzo said in a statement that it may seem counterintuitive, but smaller white dwarfs happen to be more massive. This is because white dwarfs lack the nuclear burning that keeps up normal stars against their self-gravity, and their size is instead regulated by quantum mechanics.

The highly-magnetized dead star, named ZTF J1901+1458, is located relatively close to Earth, only about 130 million light-years away. It was discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility from Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. When the two white dwarfs merged, they combined to form a new Dwarf Star, about 1.35 times the mass of our sun, the most massive of its kind ever found.If either of the stars had just slightly more mass, the merger would have resulted in an intense explosion called a supernova. With a diameter of 2,670 miles, it’s the smallest known white dwarf in the universe by over 400 miles. In comparison, the moon is 2,174 miles across.

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