Sometimes, stellar evolution happens on more human timescales—tens to hundreds of years rather than millions or billions.
Over the past decade the study of planetary debris at white dwarfs has become an increasingly exciting area. Observations of this debris have allowed us to make unique discoveries about the chemical composition of extrasolar rocky planets, as well as revealing the endpoints of the evolution of planetary systems very similar to our own…
This white dwarf is surrounded by a debris disk. What formed the disk, and what’s destroying it now?
Astronomers hope to get lucky and discover the first evidence of plate tectonics on a planet besides Earth: remnants of continental crust in the rocky material that pollutes some white dwarfs.
One of nature’s best clocks is a millisecond pulsar. These exotic stellar corpses are neutron stars: incredibly dense, rotating hundreds of times per second, and emitting powerful jets or beams of light. This creates a “pulsing” effect, much like a lighthouse.
The progenitors of a special type of cataclysmic variable, AM CVn, and possibly supernovae have been found.
Astronomers have found evidence of water in the remains of a planetary system around a white dwarf. This indicates water-rich asteroids can bring water to terrestrial planets, important for the habitability of planets.
This article considers the fate of planets that orbit stars that will become white dwarfs. Can they survive? Could they be habitable?
Pakmor et al. propose a new mechanism to make Type 1a supernova explosions from a pair of white dwarfs.