Astronomers Discover Star Turning into a Planet-Sized Diamond

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Recently, astronomers have detected signs that a white dwarf, located approximately 104 light-years away from Earth, is gradually “crystallizing” into a diamond the size of a planet. This discovery partially confirms existing theories about the ultimate fate of most stars.

Data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Gaia telescope suggest that the white dwarf is gravitationally linked to a three-star system – HD 190412. Observations indicate that its core is undergoing a process of crystallization, which could obscure the true age of the star. While the other stars in this ‘quartet’ are approximately 7.3 billion years old, the white dwarf is possibly much younger, with an estimated age of around 4.2 billion years. The research, carried out by scientists from Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States, is available in the arXiv database, but it has yet to be peer-reviewed, so readers should interpret the information cautiously.

A white dwarf represents the late stage of a star’s lifecycle—it transforms into this celestial body after exhausting all its hydrogen. At this point, stars with low to moderate masses shed their outer shells due to nuclear reactions, leaving an extremely dense core, the white dwarf itself. The star’s mass can fit within a volume equivalent to Earth’s. When more massive stars exhaust their fuel, they can collapse into black holes.

Initially, white dwarfs have extremely high temperatures, but gradually they cool and crystallize as no new energy sources are present. As a result, these stars are thought to become cold, dark objects – black dwarfs, similar in composition and structure to diamonds. According to scientific theories, such a process would take much longer than the 13.8 billion years that have passed since the Big Bang, so it’s likely that no black dwarfs currently exist in the universe. However, this destiny is expected for approximately 97% of the Milky Way’s stars, including the Sun.

Existing theories suggest that as the heat death of the universe approaches, only black holes and black dwarfs will remain, with all other stars and galaxies disappearing by then. The discovery of a star undergoing crystallization so close to the Solar System will help astronomers better understand these processes and gauge the prevalence of such stars. It’s currently estimated that less than 10 out of the 100 nearest stars are white dwarfs, making this finding of great value for observation.

In other recent astronomical news, a planet orbiting two stars, similar to Tatooine from “Star Wars,” was discovered. Astronomers currently know of only 12 such circumbinary systems.

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Vasyl Kolomiiets
Vasyl Kolomiiets
I'm Vasyl Kolomiiets, a seasoned tech journalist regularly contributing to global publications. Having a profound background in information technologies, I seamlessly blended my technical expertise with my passion for writing, venturing into technology journalism. I've covered a wide range of topics including cutting-edge developments and their impacts on society, contributing to leading tech platforms.

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