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Astronomers Discover New Class of Pulsating Star

ScuttleMonkey posted about 6 years ago | from the shiny-new-toys dept.

Space 35

KentuckyFC writes "It doesn't happen very often but astronomers have discovered a new class of pulsating white dwarf. The work began last year when the Sloan Digital Sky Survey found a few exotic white dwarf stars with carbon atmospheres. A mathematical model of these stars showed that in some circumstances the dwarfs could pulsate as the carbon was cycled through the atmosphere by convection. Now a few days observation of one of these stars has shown that it does actually pulsate as predicted."

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35 comments

What is love? (5, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 6 years ago | (#22822068)

Baby don't hurt me.
Don't hurt me.
No more.

Wait, that's Chris Kattan, a different kind of white dwarf star.

Re:What is love? (5, Funny)

Dr. Cody (554864) | about 6 years ago | (#22822310)

The inevitable and predictable jokes people make when the word "dwarf" comes up in some neutral context are sophomoric and insensitive.

We shouldn't belittle people for how they were born.

Re:What is love? (3, Funny)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | about 6 years ago | (#22822340)

Hey. Don't get short with me.

Re:What is love? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22823516)

Hey! Leave that dancing old bald guy with the bow tie, who advertises Six Flags, alone!

Re:What is love? (0, Offtopic)

Dachannien (617929) | about 6 years ago | (#22822928)

Wait, that's Chris Kattan, a different kind of white dwarf star.
I think the word "pulsating" applies here as well.

oh wow! (2, Interesting)

vajaradakini (1209944) | about 6 years ago | (#22822142)

I wonder how this sort of star came about? I haven't read through the entire article (well, the one that's actually going in the scientific journal not the condensed version that's linked), but it seems really interesting.

Of course I also didn't know that white dwarfs pulsated at all, I generally thought of them as these little lumps of carbon that just cooled down. Does anyone know if the pulsations are due to the star cooling and contracting as it does so (I know this is a likely cause for neutron stars' "starquakes" so it could be an analogous process but on a smaller scale) or if it's something else?

Re:oh wow! Maybe it arose out of a steady (1)

davidsyes (765062) | about 6 years ago | (#22823254)

bang?

If there is a "white dwarf", is there a opposite, "black giant"? If these two commingled, would there be an undulating, cosmic orgas... umm, wait...

Re:oh wow! Maybe it arose out of a steady (1)

vajaradakini (1209944) | about 6 years ago | (#22823478)

There aren't black giants, but there are black holes... perhaps this gives your imagination license to take your thoughts into the gutter. :P

"A fly in the ointment" (4, Insightful)

The Fun Guy (21791) | about 6 years ago | (#22822144)

From TFA:

Congratualtions to them but there is a potential fly in the ointment: what looks like a pulsating dwarf could actually be a binary system of two white dwarfs. Dufour is unfazed. He points out that the characteristics of the system are unique so either way, they've found a new class of something or other.
Since binary stars are a common phenomenon and what they are proposing is completely new, isn't it more likely that the less bizarre explanation is probably the right one [wikipedia.org]?

Re:"A fly in the ointment" (1)

vajaradakini (1209944) | about 6 years ago | (#22822184)

Either way, it's a white dwarf with carbon in the atmosphere, which hasn't really been observed either, as the article mentions. It's pretty amazing and exciting, at least for this astronomer.

Re:"A fly in the ointment" (4, Interesting)

Changa_MC (827317) | about 6 years ago | (#22822420)

We've never seen a pulsating carbon convection star, but we've also never actually seen a binary white dwarf that looks like this. Both are highly complicated systems and neither is inherently more complex than the other.

And the first gets +1 cool, where the second gets a -1 redundant. That's at least as important as any other rating system right now.

Re:"A fly in the ointment" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22822454)

[I]sn't it more likely that the less bizarre explanation is probably the right one?
Perhaps that's possible, but it's not a given when you consider: 1) a thesis 35 years ago predicted this phenomenon, 2) models match the observations, and 3) they discovered nine of them.

Re:"A fly in the ointment" (0, Redundant)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | about 6 years ago | (#22823264)

they discovered nine of them.

... and the first seven dwarfs are named Doc, Grumpy, Happy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, and Dopey.

we're saving the smurf names for the blue dwarfs.

Re:"A fly in the ointment" (1)

cletus7654321 (241725) | about 6 years ago | (#22822664)

Since binary stars are a common phenomenon...
Maybe I misheard, but aren't they more common than single star systems such as ours?

Dear Lamers (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22822146)


The new class of star is called the Whore class

-- after Britney Spears

personal ad (4, Funny)

arbitraryaardvark (845916) | about 6 years ago | (#22822286)

Once upon a time, back at Alma Mater U, the campus newspaper ran an ad
"Red giant seeks white dwarf for binary relationship." and gave astronomy professor [udel.edu] Harry Shipman's phone number.
Ever since then, ID has been required when placing personal ads.

Pfftttt. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22822318)

Astronomers nothin. Governor Spitzer discovered Ashley Alexandra Dupre and that new pulsating star is much more entertaining!

Oblig. grammar correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22822392)

Now a few days observation...
Now a few days' observation...

Exotic white dwarf stars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22822466)

They watch Little People Big World on TLC?

Ho hum, hooray! (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | about 6 years ago | (#22823250)

Once we get to a certain level of molecular (atomical) understanding, I think we are able to recreate any 'model' of physical circumstances. Yet it must be done to be proven...

I wonder if Cheela can live there? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#22823806)

Obscure?

New Star, New Standard Candle (1)

physburn (1095481) | about 6 years ago | (#22826688)

Look at the diagram, the way, the period runs with temperature, suggesting, that for
a particular temperature and period, a third variable, no doubt luminosity. If this
is so, then astronomies have just found a very fast new standard candle, a light source
of known brightness, that can be used to find the distance to object. In future our
sky maps may just get that much more accurate.
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