Researchers measure the mass of a single white dwarf for the first time #Space
Of the trillions of stars scattered throughout the universe, one of the most common are the white dwarfs, which are the dormant, burned out, and leftover cores of low/medium mass stars. For decades, scientists have only measured the masses of white dwarfs within binary star systems. While these measurements provide insight into the true masses of white dwarfs, the measurements typically feature high amounts of uncertainty.
With help from the joint NASA/European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble Space Telescope, a team of researchers directly measured the mass of an isolated white dwarf outside of a binary star system. Found to be approximately 56% of the Sun’s mass, the team’s results agree with previous white dwarf mass predictions and provide insight into the evolutionary processes of dead stars.
To measure the mass of the white dwarf, named LAWD 37, the team utilized gravitational microlensing — a natural phenomenon in which the gravity from a cosmic object in front of another warps the light from the background object. In the case of LAWD 37’s observations, light from a star behind the white dwarf was slightly warped as the white dwarf passed in front of the star, seemingly moving the background star to a different location in the sky.
Precisely measuring the amount of light deflected by LAWD 37’s gravity allowed the team to determine the mass of the white dwarf.
Adafruit publishes a wide range of writing and video content, including interviews and reporting on the maker market and the wider technology world. Our standards page is intended as a guide to best practices that Adafruit uses, as well as an outline of the ethical standards Adafruit aspires to. While Adafruit is not an independent journalistic institution, Adafruit strives to be a fair, informative, and positive voice within the community – check it out here: adafruit.com/editorialstandards
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.