24, Jun 2023
This Collapsed Star Is Slowly Transforming Into a Massive Cosmic Diamond

We all want a diamond that shines as bright as a star. But what about a gemstone that actually is a star?

Astronomers have discovered a rare white dwarf star undergoing a—very—slow process that would theoretically create a dense cosmic diamond at its core. According to a yet-to-be-peer-review study posted on the preprint database arXiv, the star (dubbed HD 190412 C) is primarily made up of carbon and metallic oxygen and located about 104 light years away from Earth.

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When some celestial bodies approach the end of their lives, they become what is known as a white dwarf, The Independents reports. The stars are incredibly hot when they form, but because they have exhausted their nuclear fuel, they begin to cool down and radiate their energy. This causes them to gradually get harder and even crystallize.

But should HD 190412 C actually become a gigantic piece of bling, we certainly won’t be able to rock the resulting jewelry. Scientists estimate the process would take one quadrillion years, which is a thousand trillions—and a trillion is a thousand billions. That’s even longer than the estimated age of the universe (13.6 billion years), Livescience reports.

“In this work, we present the discovery of a new Sirius-like quadruple system at 32 parsecs distance, composed of a crystallizing white dwarf companion to the previously known triple HD 190412,” astronomers wrote in the study, which has been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. To wrap your mind around that distance, 1 parsec is equal to 3.26 light years or about 206,265 times the distance from Earth to the Sun.

Our blingy celestial body’s age has been estimated to be about 4.2 billion years. A key part of this calculation is determining its distance from Earth, which researchers can determine from the brightness of the star. The scientists also used data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia Mission, which is hoping to create a 3-D map of a billion stars in the Milky Way. This data allowed the team behind the finding to model the white dwarf’s cooling over time.

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