Rare Cosmic Events: New Details Revealed By Star Collision

About 150 light-years away, there’s a star that doesn’t seem to be adding up. This is known as WDJ0551+4135 and it used to seem to be a massive white dwarf.

White dwarf stars 

Just in case you don’t know, white dwarf stars are the dead remains of stars like our sun, once they’ve burned through all of their hydrogen fuel and outer layers, according to CNN’s explication.

Usually, these are small and lightweight. They are basically about 0.6 times the mass of our sun, which weighs 4.18 nonillion pounds.

The interesting thing is that the star mentioned above didn’t fit the definition. It was 1.14 times the mass of our sun. This means that it’s almost twice the average mass of a white dwarf star.

CNN revealed that astronomers have first spotted the star in the data collected by the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope that’s been launched back in 2013.

More data has also been collected by the Williams Herschel Telescope that’s located on the island of La Palma in Spain – this helped the astronomers analyze the light that’s coming from the star.

This breakdown reportedly helped experts spot another pretty strange thing – the star’s atmosphere contained lots of carbon.

The explanation 

CNN noted that the study, including these findings was published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.

“This star stood out as something we had never seen before,” according to Mark Hollands, who is the lead study author.

“You might expect to see an outer layer of hydrogen, sometimes mixed with helium, or just a mix of helium and carbon,” he said.

He also continued and explained that “You don’t expect to see this combination of hydrogen and carbon at the same time, as there should be a thick layer of helium in between that prohibits that. When we looked at it, it didn’t make any sense.”

The experts’ conclusion was that this could only be explained if it was formed through a merger of two white dwarfs.

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