Exotic ‘Two-Faced’ White Dwarf Star: A Remarkable Discovery
A unique white dwarf star has been found in our Milky Way galaxy, located about 1,300 light years away from Earth. What makes it special is that it has two distinct sides – one side is made of hydrogen, and the other side is made of helium.
This star was named “Janus” after the Roman god with two faces, symbolizing the two elements.
Janus is incredibly dense and hot, and it contains 20% more mass than our sun, all squeezed into an object only half the size of Earth. It spins incredibly fast, completing one rotation on its axis every 15 minutes, while our Earth takes 24 hours to do the same.
White dwarf stars form at the end of a star’s life, and about 97% of stars in the universe are expected to become white dwarfs when they reach the end of their life cycle.
For instance, the sun is burning hydrogen in its core, but when it is used up, it will start burning helium into carbon and oxygen. Eventually, it will become a white dwarf. But this process will take around 5 billion years from now.
When a white dwarf forms, its heavier elements sink to the core, while lighter elements like hydrogen and helium stay on the surface. The intriguing feature of Janus having one side with hydrogen and the other with helium is believed to be due to its magnetic field configuration.
This discovery provides valuable insights into the evolution of stars and the processes that take place as they reach the end of their lives. The observations of Janus help scientists understand the various stages that stars go through as they transform into white dwarfs.