Friday, 22 March, 2019

SNAPSHOT: First Direct Evidence Stars Like Our Sun Turn Into Crystals

Earth's Sun Will Turn into a Pure Crystal Ball Before It Dies Before a white dwarf dies it turns into a crystal ball research suggests. Credit University of Warwick Mark Garlick
Doris Mccormick | 13 January, 2019, 08:10

Crystallization sets in when white dwarfs cool down to ten million degrees Celsius and bigger stars will crystallize faster than smaller ones.

Now, a team of researchers have finally found observed these stellar remnants by digging into data collected by the European Space Agency's Gaia spacecraft.

Astronomers have discovered that billions of stars across space are turning into massive crystals.and the sun could be next!

When that process comes to an end, the sun will enter the white dwarf stage, which is essentially a retired star made up primarily of oxygen and carbon gas.

Dr. Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay from the University of Warwick's Department of Physics said, "This is the first direct evidence that white dwarfs crystallize, or transition from liquid to solid".

When the transition occurs, the atoms in the super dense interior of the star form into an ordered structure and solidify, in a similar way to how liquid water transitions into ice.

They also claim that the sun is going to turn into a massive crystal. It is estimated that in some cases these stars have slowed down their aging by as much as 2 billion years, or 15 percent of the age of our galaxy.

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This process of solidification, or crystallisation, of the material inside white dwarfs was predicted 50 years ago but it wasn't until the arrival of Gaia that astronomers were able to observe enough of these objects with such a precision to see the pattern revealing this process.

The oldest white dwarfs, nearly the age of the Milky Way, are likely to be almost fully crystal Discovery published in Nature exactly fifty years after it was predicted. Before it begins to solidify and harden gradually, the sun will turn into a red giant, and from that moment it will begin to shrink down and turn into a white dwarf.

The team in Warwick studied 15,000 white dwarf candidates within around 300 light years of Earth and measured their colour and luminosity for clues about their composition.

And when the process is complete they become what are known as black dwarfs - cold crystal spheres that are not detectable with our telescopes because they don't emit energy.

"We saw a pile-up of white dwarfs of certain colors and luminosities that were otherwise not linked together in terms of their evolution", said Tremblay.

'The sun itself will become a crystal white dwarf in about 10 billion years'.

Understanding the gravitational energy release of dying stars and how it slows their cooling could help us determine the age of other stars. Red dwarfs, the most common type of star, keep burning until they have transformed all their hydrogen into helium, turning into a white dwarf. "This experiment on ultra-dense matter is something that simply can not be performed in any laboratory on Earth".

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