Star Crossed Stars Doomed…An Astronomical Love Story For Valentines Day.

Just like a Shakespearian play, the two white dwarf stars in Henize 2-428 are circling each other toward a deadly embrace.

Stellar partnership doomed to end in catastrophe

Each of the white dwarf stars have a little less mass than the Sun.

In about 700 million years the stars will merge into a Type 1a supernova, destroying both stars in a fiery final embrace.

Normally at the end of the life of a star like our Sun, the white dwarf stage is fairly permanent.   However, these two are doomed to produce another spectacular event.

A tragedy worthy of the Bard’s ballad:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona Henize, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life;
Whose misadventur’d piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife.

Romeo And Juliet Prologue, 1–8

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +, or by email.

Norman

A Dead Spacecraft Sees Dead Star Warping Light

The now non-operational Kepler space telescope data combined with Cornell-led measurements of stars’ ultraviolet activity have seen the effects of a dead star bending the light of its companion red star.

These are some of the first detections this result predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

The dead star is a white dwarf that is orbiting a small “red dwarf” star.  The white dwarf is smaller than the red dwarf, but has a much greater mass.  So when it passes in front of the red dwarf its gravity causes the light to bend and brighten. However, it is interesting to note that the red dwarf actually orbits the white dwarf.  Also, the white dwarf is quickly eating its companion star.

So, the now dead Kepler spacecraft has collected enough data to make these types of discoveries.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

The Eye In The Sky.

Two NASA space telescopes have captured a spectacular new photo of the Helix Nebula that resembles a giant cosmic eye.

This object, called the Helix nebula, lies 650 light-years away, in the constellation of Aquarius.

The Helix Nebula (also known as NGC 7293) represents a dying star known as a planetary nebula.  Planetary nebulas aren’t planets at all, but they were first identified and named in the 18th century because they resembled gas giants like Jupiter and Saturn, and the name stuck.

The new picture combines data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, which takes images in the infrared (the yellow part of the image), and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX), that images in ultraviolet (the blue part of the image) on the opposite side of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The Helix Nebula is about 650 light-years from Earth in the constellation of Aquarius.   The nebula is classified as a planetary nebula.   Stars about the size of the sun, at the end of their lives, run out of hydrogen and helium fuel for fusion in their cores.  When this happens, the stars begin to expel their outer gaseous layers into glowing remnants around them.  When all the gas has been expelled, the stars collapse into a white dwarf star about the size of the Earth.

“The white dwarf is about the size of Earth, but has a mass very close to that of the original star; in fact, a teaspoon of a white dwarf would weigh as much as a few elephants!” NASA scientists stated.

The white dwarf star in the Helix nebula is the tiny white dot in the center.

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– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities.  Connect with me on Google +

Norman