Astronomers have announced that a new dead star has been found and it is the smallest one of its category with only 2,660 miles across. This dead star, named ZTF J1901+1458, has several particularities. For starters, it is a massive star, 1.35 times the mass of the Sun and it is a white dwarf star. It is 130 light years away from our Planet and its massiveness is right at the limit of blowing into a potent stellar explosion known as supernova.
What is a dead star?
For those not that familiar with what a dead star is, this type of stars can be categorized into two: the first category: black holes and neutron stars; and the second one: supernovae and white dwarfs. The latter are stars with low mass, which have suffered a nuclear burning and therefore generate ashes. In some cases, the ashes are too massive and a powerful explosion ignites.
How was ZTF J1901+1458 discovered?
The announcement was made by a theoretical astrophysicist from Call Tech, Ilaria Caiazzo, and according the findings; it is spectacular that this dead star can prove how massive some white dwarfs become. The discovery is important because dwarf stars are known to be the smallest type, up to 1.4 solar masses, the Chandrasekhar limit. Since ZTF J1901+1458 is 1.35 solar masses, this dead star represents a breakthrough discovery.
Two in one?
Illaria Caiazzo and his fellow astrophysicists have discovered that another particularity of ZTF J1901+1458 is that this dead star consists of a union between 2 white dwarfs. The two together do not consist of a mass higher that the Chandrasekhar limit, and therefore a supernova did not take place. Moreover, this dead star is quite old, over 100 million years and its magnetic field is calculated to be much more powerful than the Sun. However, its rotation of is not that strong.
Can this white dwarf become a neutron star?
According to the astrophysicists from Call Tech, it is possible that the electrons of this binary white dwarf will start pushing against gravity in a way in which the star itself remains intact, but the core collapses, an a neutron star is formed. What is the next step? Finding other binary of merged white dwarfs and study their characteristics.