A Tiny but Massive White Dwarf

via SyFy

A white dwarf is what’s left over after a star like the Sun dies. Right now the Sun is happily fusing hydrogen into helium in its core, providing it with the energy we receive as well as the pressure it needs to support the octillion or so tons of material in its outer layers pressing down on the core.

When that hydrogen fuel runs out, a complicated series of events occur. Some steps along the way are that the now all-helium core starts to fuse to become carbon and oxygen, while the outer layers swell up and start to blow away in a dense winds of particles. Eventually the core becomes exposed to space. Hot and super-dense, we call this object a white dwarf. Once formed, it generally just kinda sits there in space, slowly cooling off with time.

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