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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on May 31, 2005 23:54:48 GMT -6
Two Stars Gonna Crash Into Each Other
White Dwarfs in a Death Spiral
(May 31, 2005) New observations from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have discovered two white dwarf stars orbiting one another at a tremendous speed - they're only 80.000 km (50,000 miles) apart!
The rate at which they're orbiting is decreasing by 1.2 milliseconds every year, which means they're destined to eventually collide. What's important about this find is that the stars are probably creating gravity waves, as predicted by Einstein, and these gravity waves should increase as they get closer and closer.
This is quite exciting and too bad I won't be able to see the two suns collide! I didn't catch how far these dwarfs are, but even as gravity waves travel at the speed of light, it will take quite while to reach us. But perhaps we can view the effects around the neighborhood of the dwarfs.
Chicago Astronomer Joe Founder, Administrator and Chief Astronomer
Telescope/Observatory Docent Facilitator Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum
Astronomy Instructor Instituto Del Progresso/IHSCA
Astronomy Program Instructor British International School of Chicago /Lincoln Park Campus
Resident Astronomer Chicago Park District Nature Oasis/Night Out in the Parks/ 606 Trail
One of them is drawing gas off the other one, creating a 250,000 °C hot spot at the point of impact. This means that only one of the stars will be a white dwarf because a white dwarf has no gas to lose. It's gas is mostly helium, meaning that its hydrogen has already been stripped by the white dwarf.