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White Dwarf Stars Act as a Source of Carbon, Help Support Life in the Universe

Representative image | Artist's impression of the supernova SN2016aps, the largest dying star seen till date. (Image: Aaron Geller/Northwestern University)

Representative image | Artist's impression of the supernova SN2016aps, the largest dying star seen till date. (Image: Aaron Geller/Northwestern University)

Scientists have finally established that the white dwarf stars help as a key source for carbon, which in turn supports life in the Universe, including the Milky Way and other galaxies.

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Do you often wonder about how life exists in the Universe and what acts as a constant source for this?

Scientists have been digging answers to this question since time immemorial. Now, in a new study, they have finally established that white dwarf stars help as a key source for carbon, which in turn supports life in the Universe, including the Milky Way and other galaxies.

The study, published in Nature Astronomy on July 6, has revealed that when a star dies in the universe, it leaves behind something that helps in supporting life thereafter.

While some of these stars turn into a black hole or a neutron, others become white dwarfs.

Notably, a star dies every second in the universe.

These white dwarfs are hot and dense initially, with a temperature as high as 100,000 Kelvin.

However, as time passes, these stars cool and shed their outer material. Their ashes contain chemical elements, including carbon, which is considered as a key element in the formation of life.

To find out about this, the study was based on observations of white dwarfs in open star clusters in the Milky Way noted by the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii in 2018.

Astronomers from Canada, USA, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden and the UK came together to study about the new source.

Co-author Enrico Ramirez-Ruiz stated, "From the analysis of the observed Keck spectra, it was possible to measure the masses of the white dwarfs. Using the theory of stellar evolution, we were able to trace back to the progenitor stars and derive their masses at birth".

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