Now We Know What Makes White Dwarf Stars Go Supernova

What makes a dead star explode? Scientists have long suspected a mechanism for making a white dwarf go supernova, but they weren't able to confirm it — until now. » 8/27/14 1:20pm 8/27/14 1:20pm

A white dwarf just exploded, creating the closest supernova in 25 years

A white dwarf exploded last night up in the Cigar Galaxy (also known as M82 to its friends), creating the closest supernova we've seen in the last 25 years — and one of the brightest, too. » 1/22/14 9:20am 1/22/14 9:20am

One of the best places to search for alien life is the last that you'd…

In death, it has been said, there is often life. And while it may sound counterintuitive, this old saw may hold especially true in the search for life of the extraterrestrial variety. NASA's Kepler mission may be just years away from discovering Earth 2.0, but the first signs of life probably won't come from planets… » 3/01/13 11:00am 3/01/13 11:00am

Is this the way the world ends?

Stars are born, stars age, and stars die. But they don't all die quietly. Astronomers have recently discovered evidence of four white dwarfs wreaking havoc on their surrounding planets, which could be Earth-like. » 5/08/12 11:00am 5/08/12 11:00am

The Helix Nebula reveals the breathtaking birth of a white dwarf

This absolutely gorgeous image from the European Southern Observatory reveals a planetary nebula, the short-lived phenomenon between the death of a star and birth of a white dwarf that has nothing to do with planets. » 1/22/12 11:45am 1/22/12 11:45am

Stare into the eerie heart of the Little Ghost Nebula...if you dare!

What is this strange astronomical formation? A more fanciful interpretation is that it's a vast cosmic eye, but then its official designation - planetary nebula - isn't much more helpful, considering it's neither a planet nor even really a nebula. » 1/17/12 9:30am 1/17/12 9:30am

NASA solves an 1,800 year old supernova mystery

In 185 CE, Chinese astronomers reported the presence of an incredibly bright "guest star" that appeared suddenly in the sky and stayed there for months. This was the first recorded supernova...and astronomers are only now understanding what it really is. » 10/25/11 3:00pm 10/25/11 3:00pm

Tiny failed star is the coldest object we've ever photographed

Imagine a hot summer day in the middle of the desert. That temperature might be dangerously hot here on Earth, but it's almost impossibly cold for any star. But that's the rather pathetic situation for a newly discovered brown dwarf. » 10/19/11 2:40pm 10/19/11 2:40pm

Thousands of white dwarf stars could theoretically explode at any moment

The whole point of white dwarfs is that they're the remains of stars not big enough to go supernova. Or so we thought. Many of these stars are held together by their super-fast spins... and slowing down could mean an explosion. » 9/06/11 11:07am 9/06/11 11:07am

The cosmic ring created by a dying star

This tiny white dwarf and the shell of gas that surrounds it was once a star very much like our Sun, and the gas is positioned just right so that it looks like a faint, glowing ring in space. » 8/17/11 7:40am 8/17/11 7:40am

The collision that created Earth's Moon is reenacted around an alien…

NLTT 43806 is a white dwarf, the dying remnants of a star like our own. But there's a problem. Its composition doesn't make any sense...unless there was a cataclysm just like the one Earth experienced four billion years ago. » 8/14/11 9:30am 8/14/11 9:30am

Feuding white dwarf stars have been destroying each other for millions…

Over a thousand light-years from Earth, there are two white dwarfs, the ghostly remnants of stars much like our Sun. But these stars aren't ordinary white dwarfs, and their bizarre composition reveals a long, passive-aggressive history of mutually assured destruction. » 5/24/11 10:46am 5/24/11 10:46am

Colliding white dwarfs give each other a new lease on life

White dwarfs are the ultra-dense husks of stars like our own, dying remnants that are just a pale shadow of their former glory. But when two white dwarfs come together, they can create something very special: a brand new star. » 5/15/11 10:45am 5/15/11 10:45am

Could dying white dwarf stars be home to habitable planets?

In the search for Earth-like worlds, astronomers look for conditions that are roughly the same as those on our planet. But the assumption that most Earth-like planets will be found around stars like our Sun might not necessarily be true. » 3/23/11 4:30pm 3/23/11 4:30pm

The evil eye in space signifies a star's death

It's the final hours for the Hourglass Nebula, as the central star runs out of nuclear fuel and becomes a white dwarf. And wow, don't those dying embers look like an unblinking gaze of evil? » 9/07/10 2:02pm 9/07/10 2:02pm

White dwarf nova explosion emits "shocking" burst of gamma rays

Novas are explosions on the surface of white dwarf stars. They're the little siblings of supernovas, lasting mere days and emitting far less energy — but apparently still enough energy to emit gamma rays, in a development that's baffled astrophysicists. » 8/13/10 2:00pm 8/13/10 2:00pm

The White Dwarf that Shattered Asteroids and Earths

Rings of debris from shattered asteroids and Earth-like planets orbit many white dwarf stars - their remains testimony to how common Earth-like bodies really are in space. » 1/05/09 3:35pm 1/05/09 3:35pm