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Rethinking Aging of White Dwarf Stars

Credits

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
 
Video imagery:

  • Hubble image of globular cluster: NASA, ESA, G. Piotto et al.
 
Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak
Science review: Dr. Brandon Lawton
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits
Transcript

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Text, NEWS FROM THE UNIVERSE
 
SEPTEMBER 10, 2021. RETHINKING AGING OF WHITE DWARF STARS
 
A vast expanse of stars in space. They are blue, orange, pink, and white.
 
Text, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has discovered that not all white dwarfs are the cooling, expired stars astronomers once thought.
 
Some white dwarf stars maintain an outer envelope of hydrogen and continue stable thermonuclear activity on their surfaces, slowing their aging.
 
The discovery is a surprise and could affect age estimates for star clusters, which may be inaccurate by as much as one billion years.
 
Roughly 98% of all stars will ultimately end up as white dwarfs, including our own Sun, making understanding them important to grasping the larger universe.
 
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This news was brought to you in part by the SPACE TELESCOPE SCIENCE INSTITUTE IN BALTIMORE, MARYLAND