The twinkling orb may look similar to the other fiery stars around it, but it is actually a flawless sphere of crystal. But when the Sun dies, it will turn into an enormous crystal ball, according to a new study.
Astronomers chose 15,000 white dwarf candidates within around 300 light years of Earth from perceptions made by the Gaia satellite and broke down information on the stars' luminosities and colors. Using data from the ESA's Gaia satellite, an worldwide group of researchers claim to have found evidence that supports the theory that when massive white dwarf stars like our brilliant host (the Sun) burn out and die, they solidify into metallic crystals.
"Previously, we had distances for only a few hundreds of white dwarfs and many of them were in clusters, where they all have the same age", said Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay from the University of Warwick, and the lead author of the study.
They identified a pile-up, an excess in the number of stars at specific colours and luminosities that do not correspond to any single mass or age.
Though they look serene and silent from our vantage on Earth, stars are actually roiling balls of violent plasma.
A scan of the heavens has shown space is littered with the crystallized remains of stars, and our own sun is expected to go the same way, too.
At the point when stars die, they, in the long run, become white dwarfs and new evidence has discovered that white dwarfs eventually crystallize after some time, however, bigger stars turn to crystals sooner than smaller ones.
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When the transition occurs, the atoms in the super dense interior of the star form into an ordered structure and solidify, in a similar way to how liquid water transitions into ice.
"All white dwarfs will crystallize at some point in their evolution", Tremblay said in a media release. Before it begins to solidify and harden gradually, the sun will turn into a red giant, and from that moment it will begin to shrink down and turn into a white dwarf.
If the stars did not crystallise they would cool at a steady rate, going from blue to orange to red and losing brightness along a smooth slope.
"We saw a pile-up of white dwarfs of certain colors and luminosities that were otherwise not linked together in terms of their evolution", said Tremblay.
"We will now have to develop better crystallization models to get more accurate estimates of the ages of these systems". More massive stars cool down more rapidly and will reach the temperature at which crystallisation happens in about one billion years.
Not all white dwarfs crystallize at the same pace.
'This means that billions of white dwarfs in our galaxy have already completed the process and are essentially crystal spheres in the sky. "The Sun itself will become a crystal white dwarf in about 10 billion years".