The First Art Newspaper on the Net Established in 1996 United States Monday, December 22, 2014


Smithsonian Astronomer Finds Evolved Stars Locked in Fatalistic Dance
The discovery team has been hunting for pairs of white dwarfs using the MMT telescope at the Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, Arizona.
WASHINGTON, DC.- White dwarfs are the burned-out cores of stars like our Sun. Astronomers have discovered a pair of white dwarfs spiraling into one another at breakneck speeds. Today, these white dwarfs are so near they make a complete orbit in just 13 minutes, but they are gradually slipping closer together. About 900,000 years from now - a blink of an eye in astronomical time - they will merge and possibly explode as a supernova. By watching the stars converge, scientists will test both Einstein's general theory of relativity and the origin of some peculiar supernovae.

The two white dwarfs are circling at a bracing speed of 370 miles per second (600 km/s), or 180 times faster than the fastest jet on Earth.

"I nearly fell out of my chair at the telescope when I saw one star change its speed by a staggering 750 miles per second in just a few minutes," said Smithsonian astronomer Warren Brown, lead author of the paper reporting the find.

The brighter white dwarf contains about a quarter of the Sun's mass compacted into a Neptune-sized ball, while its companion has more than half the mass of the Sun and is Earth-sized. A penny made of this white dwarf's material would weigh about 1,000 pounds on Earth.

Their mutual gravitational pull is so strong that it deforms the lower-mass star by three percent. If the Earth bulged by the same amount, we would have tides 120 miles high.

The discovery team has been hunting for pairs of white dwarfs using the MMT telescope at the Whipple Observatory on Mt. Hopkins, Arizona. These star pairs are too close together to distinguish photographically. By looking at the spectra, however, Brown and his team were able to differentiate the two stars and measure their relative motions. These stars are also oriented such that they eclipse each other every 6 minutes.

"If there were aliens living on a planet around this star system, they would see one of their two suns disappear every 6 minutes - a fantastic light show." said Smithsonian astronomer and co-author Mukremin Kilic.

These eclipses provide a very accurate clock, which is extremely useful for measuring any changes in the system.

General relativity predicts that moving objects will create ripples in the fabric of space-time, called gravitational waves. These waves carry away energy, causing the stars to inch closer together and orbit each other faster and faster.

"Though we have not yet directly measured gravitational waves with modern instruments, we can test their existence by measuring the change in the separation of these two stars," said co-author J. J. Hermes, a graduate student at the University of Texas at Austin. "Because they don't seem to be exchanging mass, this system is an exceptionally clean laboratory to perform such a test."

The team expects to conduct this test in a few months, when the star pair emerges from behind the Sun as seen from Earth.

Some models predict merging white dwarf pairs such as these are the source of a rare class of unusually faint stellar explosions called underluminous supernovae.

"If these systems are responsible for underluminous supernovae, we will detect these binary white dwarf systems with the same frequency that we see the supernovae. Our survey isn't complete, but so far, the numbers agree," said Brown.

This work will provide an important observational test on theories of white dwarf mergers, which are thought to produce many kinds of supernovae, not just the underluminous type.

This research appears in a paper accepted for publication by The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Brown's co-authors are Mukremin Kilic (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics/CfA), J. J. Hermes (University of Texas at Austin), Carlos Allende Prieto (Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias, Spain), Scott J. Kenyon (CfA) and D. E. Winget (University of Texas at Austin).





Today's News

July 14, 2011

Italian Officials Unveil a Massive Statue Believed to Be of Roman Emperor Caligula

Chinese Contemporary Warriors Stand in Formation at the Milwaukee Art Museum

Smithsonian Astronomer Finds Evolved Stars Locked in Fatalistic Dance

Marc Pachter to Serve as Acting Director of National Museum of American History

Outspoken Artist Ai Weiwei's Design Firm Told It Has Not Paid Corporate Taxes

Rules of Football Sell for £881,250; Jane Austen Manuscript for Novel Sells

National Maritime Museum in London Opens New £35 Million Sammy Ofer Wing

Online Community Participates in Brooklyn Museum's Latest Exhibition "Split Second"

Custom Billy Haines Furnishings from the Brody Collection to Highlight Christie's Interiors Sale

Alexander Calder's Horizontal Permanently Installed in Front of Centre Pompidou

Sotheby's London to Sell a Group of 20th Century British Art from The Dartington Hall Trust Collection

Historian Barry Landau, Accused of Maryland Historical Society Theft, Faces Trial

Summer Exhibition at Alan Cristea Gallery Focuses on the Work of Royal Academicians

Eiffel Tower: A Part of the Legend Enters the Sorgente Collection

Director of Tate Liverpool, Dr. Christoph Grunenberg, Concludes Ten Successful Years

Texas Artist's Work Hurtling through Space with Atlantis

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute's Ira Rubinoff to Receive the Smithsonian's Highest Honor

Czech Abstract Painter Zdenek Sykora, Known for Computer Geometrical Paintings, Dies

Berlin's University of Arts Says Recently Freed Artist Ai Weiwei Accepts Job Offer

Israeli Government Gives Go-Ahead to Museum of Tolerance Opposed by Muslims

Fotoevidence Announces Publication of Bronx Boys Photographs by Stephen Shames

Florence Ostende Announced as New Adjunct Curator at Dallas Contemporary

Thai Authorities Find Smuggled Methamphetamine Shaped as Handicraft Art

Jimi Guitar Strap, Jackson Glove Offered by Gotta Have It! Collectibles Inc.

Triumphant Sales at Masterpiece London 2011 Herald a Superb End to the Fair

Most Popular Last Seven Days



1.- Colossal statue of Amenhotep III unveiled on the west bank of the Nile in Egypt

2.- British royals crown New York visit with gala dinner

3.- Missing artwork rediscovered in "Stuart Little" sells for over 200,000 euros at auction

4.- Rossetti's Venus Verticordia soars at Sotheby's in London to sell for £2.88 million

5.- Russian magnate buys, then returns Nobel prize to American geneticist James Watson

6.- Egyptian Museum unveils four newly renovated halls of the famed Tutankhamun gallery

7.- 'The Secret of Dresden: From Rembrandt to Canaletto' on view at the Groninger Museum

8.- Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum reopens after three-year renovation

9.- More than 200 queries about works by possible heirs received on Nazi-era art hoard

10.- Attorney, artist and filmmaker reflects on the seven lessons learned at 2014 Art Basel Miami Beach



Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .

 

Founder:
Ignacio Villarreal
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal - Consultant: Ignacio Villarreal Jr.
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez - Marketing: Carla Gutiérrez
Special Contributor: Liz Gangemi - Special Advisor: Carlos Amador
Contributing Editor: Carolina Farias

Royalville Communications, Inc
produces:

ignaciovillarreal.org theavemaria.org juncodelavega.org facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. The most varied versions
of this beautiful prayer.
Hommage
to a Mexican poet.
Hommage
       

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site