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Evolved stars locked in fatalistic dance

By abe10tiger
Jul 15, 2011
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  1. Science News

    White dwarfs are the burned-out cores of stars like our Sun. Astronomers have discovered a pair of white dwarfs spiraling into one another at breakneck speeds. Today, these white dwarfs are so near they make a complete orbit in just 13 minutes, but they are gradually slipping closer together. About 900,000 years from now -- a blink of an eye in astronomical time -- they will merge and possibly explode as a supernova. By watching the stars converge, scientists will test both Einstein's general theory of relativity and the origin of some peculiar supernovae.


    [​IMG]
    Two white dwarfs have been discovered on the brink of a merger. In just 900,000 years, material will start to stream from one star to the other (as shown in this artist's conception), beginning the process that may end with a spectacular supernova explosion. Watching these stars fall in will allow astronomers to test Einstein's general theory of relativity as well as the origin of a special class of supernovae. (Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA))

    Source:ScienceDaily
     

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