Russian Physicists: White Dwarf Stars Could be Filled with Creamy Quantum Liquids

Tuesday, 29 October 2019 - 9:55AM
Weird Science
Tuesday, 29 October 2019 - 9:55AM
Russian Physicists: White Dwarf Stars Could be Filled with Creamy Quantum Liquids
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A team of Russian theoretical physicists has proposed the radical new theory that white dwarf stars have what some are calling a "creamy" liquid interior, according to Live Science. Their paper has been published in Cornell University's arXiv which publishes papers that are pending peer review.


White dwarf stars are the bones that remain at the end of a small- to medium-sized star's life cycle. This star (like our Sun) fuses hydrogen into helium for fuel. When most of its hydrogen supplies have been burnt off, a star then expands and turns into a red giant. In this phase, the star is consuming the last of its helium and transforming it into heavier elements like carbon. The star continues to swell until, finally, the core is forced to collapse in on itself and the gaseous stellar atmosphere blooms into a planetary nebula.


What's left behind is a white dwarf: a tiny, angry ball of supercharged matter that is extremely hot and incredibly dense – the densest form of matter except for neutron stars and black holes. Early astronomers were completely bewildered by these types of stars when they were first discovered. Their densities are literally out of this world, and by all accounts, they should have collapsed in on themselves under this insane pressure or perhaps dissolved over trillions of years.


The answer is rather fascinating: it is precisely because the white dwarf stars are so dense that the electrons inside are tightly compressed to the point that they can create enough pressure to keep these stars inflated regardless of time's slow march.


This new theoretical model posits that deep inside the white dwarf star is a "thick soup of electrons" that suspends within it the heavier nuclei. It's this quantum liquid that forms the creamy interior while the outer layer freezes in the vacuum of space, and hydrogen settles into a fine atmospheric layer until, inevitably, they cool down and burn out – as all things do in their time.


It's a model that builds on original science while offering a spin on conventional theories, and scientists believe they can prove whether or not this and other theories are true by analyzing the speed at which they lose heat (which could provide information on their physical and chemical structures), their visual "wobble" in different types telescopes (which is determined by chemical composition and the wavelengths those elements emit), and how many of them there are.


You can read the proposition in full here on Cornell's ArXiv.


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