NASA Scientists Have Discovered First Ancient Dead Star

NASA Scientists Have Discovered First Ancient Dead Star

NASA scientists have detected a first ancient dead star. A citizen scientist Melina Thévenot from Germany discovered an anomaly while searching through data collected by the European Space Agency’s Gaia spacecraft. At first she didn’t believe that data was really important, but when she looked at the source in the images from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, she decided the data can be important and valuable.

“This white dwarf is so old that whatever process is feeding material into its rings must operate on billion-year timescales,” said John Debes, an astronomer and lead author on the study. “This star is really challenging our assumptions of how planetary systems evolve.”

“The leads on that project decided to follow up on the finding, re-positioning the Keck II telescope in Hawaii to take a deeper look. With their new set of eyes focused on the tiny spot in the sky, Keck II confirmed the blip wasn’t bad data — it was the oldest, coldest white dwarf we’ve ever spotted — and it is circled by a peculiar set of dusty rings. The discovery appears Tuesday in The Astrophysical Journal Letters”, mentions

This new discovered dead star is about the size of the Earth and located around 145 light-years from Earth. The team believes the dead star has two disks of dusty material, the first known white dwarf to host such a weird phenomenon.

“What makes this new white dwarf so interesting is that it’s much older than the typical dusty white dwarf,” said Debes. “That is hard to explain with our current models of how asteroids get kicked into inner white dwarf systems, but somehow Nature knows how to do it.”

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