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April 07, 2011

Two Dead Stars to Experience Rebirth

Astronomers have discovered a pair of white dwarfs, dead stars, that are orbiting each other once every 39 minutes. As these stars move around one another, they slowly lose orbital energy, causing the distance between to decrease. Eventually, in 39 million years the white dwarfs will collide, and when they do a new, live star will be born out of the two dead stars. Since both stars' masses are much smaller than the Sun's, the pair is not massive enough to cause a supernova, and instead will combine into one body. The white dwarfs are thought to be made of helium, and therefore when they combine the fusion of helium will begin, powering the new star.


Posted by ktwadell at April 7, 2011 01:00 AM


While humans may not habit the Earth in 39 million years, it would be absolutely astonishing to witness an event like this. It was mentioned in the article that as more binary white dwarf stars are discovered, we may start to see this event happening more often if the stars are small enough. Of course, it also makes one wonder whether our own star may have formed in a similar manner.

Posted by: alymro at April 7, 2011 01:02 PM

It also makes me wonder how our own star, the sun formed, but also, if the masses aren't big enough to cause a supernova, then what exactly will happen when these two stars collide? Will it effect our planet in any way? I'm wondering how close these white dwarfs are to our planet.

Posted by: skritt at April 9, 2011 05:43 PM

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