Planet orbiting white dwarf star is a breakthrough discovery

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News: Astronomers from the University of Warwick’s Department of Physics and the Millennium Nucleus for Planet Formation (NPF) at the University of Valparaiso have found the first-ever evidence of a planet orbiting a dead white dwarf star.

Facts:

  • The star is around 2000 light-years away from Earth.
  • The planet orbits the white dwarf every ten days, and cannot be seen directly. 

Additional Information:

White Dwarf Stars:

  • Stars like the Sun fuse hydrogen in their cores into helium. White dwarfs are stars that have burned up all of the hydrogen they once used as nuclear fuel.
  • Fusion in a star’s core produces heat and outward pressure. This pressure is kept in balance by the inward push of gravity generated by a star’s mass. When the hydrogen used as fuel vanishes, and fusion slows, gravity causes the star to collapse in on itself, thus forming a white dwarf star.
  • White dwarfs typically have a radius just .01 times that of the Sun in our Solar System, but their mass is about the same as the Sun.