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whitedwarf - Newest pictures
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White Dwarf Stars

The above image is of the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. Sirius has a small white dwarf companion, Sirius B, visible to the lower left of the image.
The first white dwarf was discovered by the American astronomer Alvan Graham Clark in 1862.
Upon observing the motions of Sirius, In 1841, the German scientist Friedrich Bessel noticed that something large seemed to be tugging at it. Bessel predicted it to be about the size of the Earth.
The Indian-born physicist, Subramanyan Chandrasekhar who worked under the tutelage of Sir Arthur Eddington calculated that the maximum mass a white dwarf can have is 1.4 times that of the Sun.
For a white star to be born, its parent star must die. Inside the star, the intense nuclear furnace creates successively heavier and heavier chemical elements. In stars less than five times the mass of the Sun, fusion stops as carbon is created. The carbon sits in a sphere at the centre of the star, becoming progressively denser as gravity squeezes it relentlessly together. Eventually the core settles into an object about the size of the Earth but containing up to 1.4 times the mass of the Sun. This is known as a white dwarf star. As the outer layers of the dying star disperse into space, the white dwarf is revealed. The interior of the white dwarf is thought to be crystalline and, because the main constituent is carbon, there is a strong possibility that it is a diamond of 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 carats.
See also, "Planetary Nebulae", "Supernovae" and, "Neutron Stars" topic pages.


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