First of a kind White dwarf switching on and off stuns astronomers

Astronomers recently faced a white dwarf about 1400 light-years from Earth, which is switching on and off. Researchers from Durham University said that such an incident is never observed in any developing white dwarfs.

Simone Scaringi, an astronomer at Durham University’s Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy says, “It appears to be switching on and off.” Generally when a star enters its last phase of life then it transforms into a white dwarf, which is specifically a kind of star having size the same as earth but the mass is equivalent to the sun.

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite(TESS) provided data which when Durham’s astronomers studied, figured out the first-ever observation of white dwarf losing its brightness in just 30 minutes. Earlier when astronomers observed such an incident, it was known to lose its brightness over some days.

Lead author Dr. Simone Scaringi says, “Variations in brightness seen in accreting white dwarfs are relatively slow and occur on days to months, as the 30 minutes brightness of TW Pictoris is astonishing in itself as such is never observed in the past.”

White dwarf switching on and off stuns astronomers

The developing white dwarfs got affected in many ways by the quantity of material on which they rely for their food. The bright reactions due to the developing process can easily be seen through high-tech telescopes and can also teach us more about the oldest celestial bodies present in the sky.

Researchers believed that something is there which is affecting the food supply of the dwarf under observation and so affects the brightness of this dying star. Astronomers from Durham University saw a white dwarf binary system approximately at a distance of 1,400 light-years away known as TW Pictoris. That system is continuously losing and gaining its brightness.

As per astronomers phenomenon of magnetic gating is causing it. It took place when the magnetic field of white dwarf spins with much higher speed and develops a kind of barrier for material that this celestial body accepts.

Magnetic gating resulted in an increment in the brightness but on a semi-regular basis. Researchers are hoping to learn more about the physics behind accretion which happens when objects like black holes, white dwarfs, and neutron stars are dependent on nearby stars for food.

The Sun is also believed to have collapsed into a white dwarf. And it will happen when the sun loses its fuel completely. This incident is assumed to take place in 10 billion years.


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