Thousands Of Stars Are Turning Into Crystals

Posted: Jan 13 2019, 12:08am CST | by , Updated: Jan 13 2019, 12:11am CST, in Latest Science News

 

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Thousands of Stars are Turning into Crystals
Credit: University of Warwick/Mark Garlick

Sun itself will become a crystal white dwarf in about 10 billion years, says study

Researchers have found first direct evidence that thousands of white dwarf stars in the universe are turning into crystal balls and the same could happen to our sun.

White dwarf stars are remnants left after sun-like stars reach the end of their life. Observations reveal that these dead stars create a core of solid oxygen and carbon during a phase similar to water turning into ice but at much higher temperatures.

After billions of years, sun-like stars burn through their nuclear fuel and will no longer able to sustain source of energy. When these stars cool over time, their cores transform into a solid crystal.

Researchers have reached this conclusion after studying 15,000 white dwarf candidates within around 300 light years of Earth. They analyzed the stars' luminosity and colors based on data from Gaia satellite and identified a pile-up or a large number of white dwarf stars with specific colors and luminosity that was not consistent with any single mass or age, The similar appearance of these stars suggest that they have reached a certain phase in their development, in which they become a crystal and release considerable amount of energy.

"This is the first direct evidence that white dwarfs crystallize, or transition from liquid to solid. It was predicted fifty years ago that we should observe a pile-up in the number of white dwarfs at certain luminosity and colors due to crystallization and only now this has been observed,” said lead author Dr. Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay from the University of Warwick's Department of Physics.

"All white dwarfs will crystallize at some point in their evolution, although more massive white dwarfs go through the process sooner. This means that billions of white dwarfs in our galaxy have already completed the process and are essentially crystal spheres in the sky. The Sun itself will become a crystal white dwarf in about 10 billion years."

White dwarfs are common and some of the oldest stars in the universe. As these stars release enough energy, their fluid begins to solidify and form a metallic core. The phenomenon also slows down their cooling process. This means that many of these stars are potentially billions of years older than previously thought.

"We've made a large step forward in getting accurate ages for these cooler white dwarfs and therefore old stars of the Milky Way. Much of the credit for this discovery is down to the Gaia observations,” said Dr. Tremblay. “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. Before Gaia we had 100-200 white dwarfs with precise distances and luminosities – and now we have 200,000. This experiment on ultra-dense matter is something that simply cannot be performed in any laboratory on Earth."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.

 

 

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