4 posts · 4,843 views
Assistant professor of physics and astronomy at Texas A&M University - Commerce.
No, it's not the latest celebrity scandal. But a group of astronomers think they may have seen two stars in space spiral together, combine in a rare type of stellar eruption, and combine to make a single star.
Our story begins with a type of event called a nova (plural: novae). Novae are typically thought to be nuclear explosions on the surface of white dwarf stars. White dwarfs are the remains of stars that have used all of their nuclear fuel. If a white dwarf can........ Read more »
Image Credit: NASA / Spitzer / JPL-Caltech
White dwarfs, the slowly cooling remains of stars that have completed their life cycles, often seem to be the zombies of the night sky, devouring anything that happens to stray within their grasp. In an article that will be appearing in an upcoming issue of the Astrophysical Journal, astronomers Patrick Dufour, Mukremin Kilic and collaborators discuss a recently-discovered white dwarf that seems to have devoured a dwarf planet. Its name:&........ Read more »
P. Dufour, M. Kilic, G. Fontaine, P. Bergeron, F. -R. Lachapelle, S. J. Kleinman, & S. K. Leggett. (2010) The Discovery of the Most Metal-Rich White Dwarf: Composition of a Tidally Disrupted Extrasolar Dwarf Planet. The Astrophysical Journal. arXiv: 1006.3710v1
In September of 2008, I was sitting at the controls of the McDonald Observatory 2.1-meter Struve Telescope. I was there to help some of my colleagues who work on a team associated with NASA's Kepler Mission. This team, the Kepler Astroseismic Science Consortium, isn't on the lookout for planets. They are studying the stars themselves, looking for variations in the light from stars caused by sound waves in the star. The study of these sound waves, known as asteroseismol........ Read more »
Kurtis A. Williams, Domitilla de Martino, Roberto Silvotti, Ivan Bruni, Patrick Dufour, Thomas S. Riecken, Martin Kronberg, Anjum Mukadam, & G. Handler. (2010) Discovery of a Nova-Like Cataclysmic Variable in the Kepler Mission Field. The Astronomical Journal. arXiv: 1004.3743v1
Video credit: University of Michigan / Boston University / Cosmovision
We went looking for a small black hole in our neighborhood, maybe a few hundred light-years away, and instead we found a supermassive black hole nearly 7 billion light-years away. Sometimes astronomy can be that way...
Back in February, my colleagues and I were looking at white dwarfs with the Keck I telescope in Hawaii. Before our second night started, the astronomers at the neighboring teles........ Read more »
J. Vandenbroucke, R. Buehler, M. Ajello, K. Bechtol, A. Bellini, M. Bolte, C. C. Cheung, F. Civano, D. Donato, L. Fuhrmann.... (2010) Discovery of a GeV blazar shining through the Galactic plane. Astrophysical Journal Letters. arXiv: 1004.1413v1
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