A 1500 Year Old Explosion (maybe)

A 1500 Year Old Explosion (maybe)

On 16th November in 483 CE, astronomers in China recorded the appearance of “a guest star east of Shen, as large as a peck measure, and like a fuzzy star”. The new celestial light shone brightly for just under a month, then faded to nothing. Over 1500 years later, the authors of today’s paper suggests that they may have found the source.

Dead Star, Dying Planets

Dead Star, Dying Planets

In around five billion years, the hydrogen fuel in the core of the Sun will run out, and our star will begin to die. After swelling up into a red giant, many times bigger than its current size, the Sun will blow away its outer layers to leave a tiny, ultra-dense core, around the size of the Earth. White dwarfs, as these dead, slowly cooling star cores are known, are the ultimate fate for the vast majority of stars in the Universe.

White Dwarf Surprise

White Dwarf Surprise

This variable white dwarf pulsates as expected, but it also experiences very bright outbursts. Today’s paper takes us through the discovery and verification of the second pulsating white dwarf with outbursts, and speculates how the pulsations and outbursts may be linked.

The Magnetic Personalities Of Dead Stars

The Magnetic Personalities Of Dead Stars

The galaxy is littered with white dwarfs, the burnt out remnants of stars that have run out of hydrogen fuel in their cores, but were too small to explode as supernovae. But far from being lifeless orbs, around a tenth of white dwarfs have powerful magnetic fields, a million times stronger than that of the Sun. How did these magnetic white dwarfs become such strong magnets? And just how many are there. The authors of this paper set out to answer the second of these questions, in the hope that it would shed light on the first.