The Embarrassed White Dwarf

The Embarrassed White Dwarf
Its embarrassing being a lump of rock in space when the Philosophical Astrologers start calling you names and inventing all sorts of stories about your demeanour and appearance.

This embarrassment is particularly acute when the Philosophical Astrologers start calling you a White Dwarf when you are neither white nor a dwarf.

A small creature resembling a human, often ugly, appearing in legends and fairy tales.

White Dwarf
The estimated radii of observed white dwarfs… is comparable to the Earth’s radius…

A Rare Pink Star: Nova Centauri 2013
The nova is the result of a thermonuclear explosion on the surface of a white dwarf star…

Unsurprisingly, many of these denigrated lumps of rock in space think that the Philosophical Astrologers are just a bunch of small minded bigots with nothing better to do than write fairy tales for adults suffering from arrested development.

These lumps of rock in space are particularly unimpressed when they are described as white because they know the Philosophical Astrologers are simply judging a book by its cover.

The English idiom “don’t judge a book by its cover” is a metaphorical phrase which means “you shouldn’t prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone”.

This is particularly true when the lumps of rock in space are surrounded by fluorescing gas because the prejudices of the Philosophical Astrologers won’t allow them to perceive:

i) The underlying lump of rock is a source of radiation that causes the surrounding gas to fluoresce.
ii) A neighbouring lump of rock is a source of radiation which causes the gas surrounding another lump of rock to fluoresce.
iii) A combination of i) and ii).


Cosmic Ray Blues - Seeing Scintillating White Dwarfs

The Philosophical Astrologers then proceed to add insult to injury by calling these lumps of rock in spaceDegenerate Dwarfs” because they have imagined that these lumps of rock in space are “composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter”.

A white dwarf, also called a degenerate dwarf, is a stellar remnant composed mostly of electron-degenerate matter.

Unsurprisingly, many of these victimised lumps of rock in space perceive the Philosophical Astrologers to be just another bunch of flipped out jerks who have been suckered into the delusional labyrinth of quantum mechanics.

Degenerate matter in physics is a collection of free, non-interacting particles with a pressure and other physical characteristics determined by quantum mechanical effects.

It is the counterpart of an ideal gas in classical mechanics.

The degenerate state of matter, in the sense of deviant from an ideal gas, arises at extraordinarily high density (in compact stars) or at extremely low temperatures in laboratories.

It occurs for matter particles such as electrons, neutrons, protons, and fermions in general and is referred to as electron-degenerate matter, neutron-degenerate matter, etc.

In a mixture of particles, such as ions and electrons in white dwarfs or metals, the electrons may be degenerate, while the ions are not.

Personally, I’m with the lumps of rock in space on this one.

The Philosophical Astrologers imagine that “degenerate matter” is plasma that has been repeatedly compressed until “it will not be possible to compress the plasma any further”.

Imagine that a plasma is cooled and compressed repeatedly.

Eventually, it will not be possible to compress the plasma any further, because the Pauli exclusion principle states that two fermions cannot share the same quantum state.

When in this state, since there is no extra space for any particles, we can also say that a particle’s location is extremely defined.

However, the Philosophical Astrologers also contradictorily imagine that these plasma objects [that can’t be compressed any further because “there is no extra space for any particles”] actually “becomes smaller” when additional mass is acquired.

Electron degeneracy
In an ordinary fermion gas in which thermal effects dominate, most of the available electron energy levels are unfilled and the electrons are free to move to these states.

As particle density is increased, electrons progressively fill the lower energy states and additional electrons are forced to occupy states of higher energy even at low temperatures.

Degenerate gases strongly resist further compression because the electrons cannot move to already filled lower energy levels due to the Pauli exclusion principle.

In the core of a star, once hydrogen burning in nuclear fusion reactions stops, it becomes a collection of positively charged ions, largely helium and carbon nuclei, floating in a sea of electrons, which have been stripped from the nuclei.

Normal gas exerts higher pressure when it is heated and expands, but the pressure in a degenerate gas does not depend on the temperature.

Therefore, the phenomenon is the opposite of that normally found in matter where if the mass of the matter is increased, the object becomes bigger.

In degenerate gas, when the mass is increased, the pressure is increased, and the particles become spaced closer together, so the object becomes smaller.

The Philosophical Astrologers are also very prejudiced when it comes to the parentage of these lumps of rock in space because they disparagingly call them stellar remnants.

A white dwarf, also called a degenerate dwarf, is a stellar remnant…

White dwarfs are thought to be the final evolutionary state of all stars whose mass is not high enough to become a neutron star—over 97% of the stars in the Milky Way.

Unsurprisingly, these lumps of rock in space think that the Philosophical Astrologers are an unobservant bunch of juveniles who still believe that babies are found under gooseberry bushes.

Digging deeper into the Philosophical Astrologers treasure trove of prejudicial invective we find that the abuse hurled at these lumps of rock in space may be based upon ageism and envy because these lumps of rock in space are believed to “persist virtually forever”.

Discrimination based on age, especially prejudice against the elderly.

The Sun today is roughly halfway through the most stable part of its life.

It has not changed dramatically for four billion years, and will remain fairly stable for four billion more.

Barring external perturbation or baryon decay, they will persist virtually forever, although black holes are generally believed to finally evaporate from Hawking radiation

However, the length of time it takes for a white dwarf to reach this state is calculated to be longer than the current age of the Universe (approximately 13.8 billion years), and since no white dwarf can be older than the age of the Universe, it is thought that no black dwarfs yet exist.

Unsurprisingly, the lumps of rock in space think the Philosophical Astrologers are a bunch of religious fundamentalist nuts who reject all evolutionary concepts including any suggestion that some of these lumps of rock in space may eventually flicker into life as fully fledged stars.

As many as five novae bright enough to be detected by SMEI explode in our galaxy each year, Allen Shafter, astronomy professor at San Diego State University and one of the co-authors of the report have previously estimated, but more than half have gone undetected.

RS Ophiuchi (RS Oph) is a recurrent nova system approximately 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus.

In its quiet phase it has an apparent magnitude of about 12.5.

It erupted in 1898, 1933, 1958, 1967, 1985, and 2006 and reached about magnitude 5 on average.

The recurrent nova is produced by a white dwarf star and a red giant circling about each other in a close orbit.

T Pyxidis (T Pyx) is a recurrent nova and nova remnant in the constellation Pyxis.

It’s a binary star system and is estimated at about 4,783 parsecs (15,600 light-years) from Earth.

It contains a sun-like star and a white dwarf.

The usual apparent magnitude of this star system is 15.5, but there occurred eruptions with maximal apparent magnitude of about 7.0 in the years 1890, 1902, 1920, 1944, 1966 and 2011.

Hubble telescope picture of T Pyxidis

Further rummaging in the Philosophical Astrologers box of magical science we find that these lumps of rock in space are almost perfect conductors of heat from which “no thermal energy can be extracted” whilst they “radiate at temperatures of a few thousand” degrees Kelvin.

The oldest white dwarfs still radiate at temperatures of a few thousand kelvins.

Since electrons cannot give up energy by moving to lower energy states, no thermal energy can be extracted.

Degenerate gas is an almost perfect conductor of heat and does not obey the ordinary gas laws.

White dwarfs are luminous not because they are generating any energy but rather because they have trapped a large amount of heat.

The Philosophical Astrologers additional accuse these lumps of rock in space of theft on a grand scale.

Artist's conception of a white dwarf accreting hydrogen from a larger companion

If a white dwarf has a close companion star that overflows its Roche lobe, the white dwarf will steadily accrete gas from the companion’s outer atmosphere.

The companion may be a main sequence star, or one that is aging and expanding into a red giant.

The captured gases consist primarily of hydrogen and helium.

The gases are compacted on the white dwarf’s surface by its intense gravity, compressed and heated to very high temperatures as additional material is drawn in.

The white dwarf consists of degenerate matter, and so does not inflate as its temperature increases, while the accreted hydrogen is compressed upon the surface.

The dependence of the hydrogen fusion rate on temperature and pressure means that it is only when it is compressed and heated at the surface of the white dwarf to a temperature of some 20 million kelvin that a nuclear fusion reaction occurs; at these temperatures, hydrogen burns via the CNO cycle.

Unsurprisingly, the lumps of rock in space totally deny these charges and note that the professional Philosophical Astrologers have never witnessed a theft because they are too busy writing fairy tales and can’t be bothered to get their facts straight.

“Even today novae are mainly discovered by amateur astronomers around the world who then alert their professional counterparts to conduct observations,” Hounsell said.

Astronomers estimate that the Milky Way experiences roughly 30 to 60 novae per year, with a likely rate of about 40. The number of novae discovered in the Milky Way each year is much lower, about 10.

… Nova Centauri 2013, was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer John Seach.

… Nova Delphini 2013… was discovered on 14 August 2013 by amateur astronomer Koichi Itagaki in Japan…

Nova Delphini 2013

Furthermore, the lumps of rock in space are visibly unimpressed with the Philosophical Astrologers explanation of runaway surface fusion for Novae because these lumps of rock in space are cloaked in a fluorescing cloud of gas which inhibits observation of the surface [and core] of these lumps of rock in space.

A nova is caused by the accretion of hydrogen on to the surface of the star, which ignites and starts nuclear fusion in a runaway manner.
Novae are thought to occur on the surface of a white dwarf in a binary system.

A helium nova (or helium flash) is a proposed category of nova explosion that lacks hydrogen lines in the spectrum.
This may be caused by the explosion of a helium shell on a white dwarf.
It was proposed by Kato, Saio and Hachisu in 1989.
The first candidate helium nova to be observed was V445 Puppis in 2000.
Since then, four other novae explosions have been proposed as helium novae.

Eventually, the white dwarf could explode as a type Ia supernova if it approaches the Chandrasekhar limit.

Formation of a type Ia supernova

Regardless of the exact details of nuclear burning, it is generally accepted that a substantial fraction of the carbon and oxygen in the white dwarf is burned into heavier elements within a period of only a few seconds, raising the internal temperature to billions of degrees.

This energy release from thermonuclear burning (1–2×1044 J]) is more than enough to unbind the star; that is, the individual particles making up the white dwarf gain enough kinetic energy to fly apart from each other.

The star explodes violently and releases a shock wave in which matter is typically ejected at speeds on the order of 5,000–20,000 km/s, roughly 6% of the speed of light.

The energy released in the explosion also causes an extreme increase in luminosity.

The typical visual absolute magnitude of Type Ia supernovae is Mv = −19.3 (about 5 billion times brighter than the Sun), with little variation.

The theory of this type of supernovae is similar to that of novae, in which a white dwarf accretes matter more slowly and does not approach the Chandrasekhar limit.

In the case of a nova, the infalling matter causes a hydrogen fusion surface explosion that does not disrupt the star.

Personally, I am also unimpressed with the Novae theories of the Philosophical Astrologers because Nova light curves are collectively inconsistent and individually variable over days, weeks and months.

Exquisite Nova Light Curves
Exquisite Nova Light Curves from the Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI)

R. Hounsell, M.F. Bode, P.P. Hick, A. Buffington, B.V. Jackson, J.M. Clover, A.W. Shafter, M.J. Darnley, N.R. Mawson, I.A. Steele A. Evans, S.P.S. Eyres, T.J. O’Brien

Astrophys.J. 724 (2010) 480-486 – DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/724/1/480

We present light curves of three classical novae (KT Eridani, V598 Puppis, V1280 Scorpii) and one recurrent nova (RS Ophiuchi) derived from data obtained by the Solar Mass Ejection Imager (SMEI) on board the Coriolis satellite.

New observations of exploding stars reveal pauses, flickers and flares not reliably seen before
Astronomers have traced the waxing and waning light of exploding stars more closely than ever before and seen patterns that aren’t yet accounted for in our current understanding of how these eruptions occur.

Nova Del 2013 light curve

Nova Centauri 2013 is particularly unimpressed and embarrassed by the Philosophical Astrologers.

Nova Centauri 2013, as it was called, was only visible to folks in the southern hemisphere, but was bright enough that handheld cameras were able to spot the star.

As expected, the star became progressively brighter, then waned, which is just the sort of thing one would expect of a colossal stellar explosion.

But the star has since done some odd things, unexpectedly becoming brighter, then dimmer, and now turning bright pink.

Nova Centauri 2013 Magnitude

The fairy tales concocted by the Philosophical Astrologers are written primarily because they are in denial.

Firstly, the Philosophical Astrologers are in denial about the very fabric of these spherical lumps of rock in space [including main sequence stars] which are cloaked neutron stars.

Usually, therefore, white dwarfs are composed of carbon and oxygen.

in which case an oxygen-neon–magnesium white dwarf may be formed.

Also, some helium white dwarfs appear to have been formed by mass loss in binary systems.

a carbon white dwarf of 0.59 solar mass with a hydrogen atmosphere.

Although most white dwarfs are thought to be composed of carbon and oxygen, spectroscopy typically shows that their emitted light comes from an atmosphere which is observed to be either hydrogen-dominated or helium-dominated. The dominant element is usually at least 1,000 times more abundant than all other elements.

A white dwarf with a polarized magnetic field

A small fraction (roughly 0.1%) have carbon-dominated atmospheres

The type I supernovae are subdivided on the basis of their spectra, with type Ia showing a strong ionised silicon absorption line

In the absence of a countervailing process, the white dwarf would collapse to form a neutron star, as normally occurs in the case of a white dwarf that is primarily composed of magnesium, neon, and oxygen.

Secondly, the Philosophical Astrologers are in denial about the formation of these spherical lumps of rock in space [including main sequence stars] which form [just like planets] with an outer iron core and a nuclear inner core.

In planetary science, planetary differentiation is the process of separating out different constituents of a planetary body as a consequence of their physical or chemical behaviour, where the body develops into compositionally distinct layers; the denser materials of a planet sink to the center, while less dense materials rise to the surface.

Such a process tends to create a core and mantle.

The outer iron core

Spectrum of Nova Del 2013 - 4 Sept 2013

Thirdly, the Philosophical Astrologers are in denial regarding the falsification of Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation and decided to invent “dark matter”.

Galactic Rotation

Following this, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Vera Rubin, a young astronomer at the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution of Washington worked with a new sensitive spectrograph that could measure the velocity curve of edge-on spiral galaxies to a greater degree of accuracy than had ever before been achieved.

Together with fellow staff-member Kent Ford, Rubin announced at a 1975 meeting of the American Astronomical Society the discovery that most stars in spiral galaxies orbit at roughly the same speed, which implied that their mass densities were uniform well beyond the location with most of the stars (the galactic bulge), a result independently found in 1978.

Rubin presented her results in an influential paper in 1980.

These results suggest that either Newtonian gravity does not apply universally or that, conservatively, upwards of 50% of the mass of galaxies was contained in the relatively dark galactic halo.

Fools Gold

Gallery | This entry was posted in Astrophysics, Inventions and Deceptions, Science, Solar System. Bookmark the permalink.

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