Researchers have found a "crystal star" for the first time and now know what the future of our Sun will be.
10 billion years, this is the moment when scientists give life to our Sun, the King of the Star, the provider of life on Earth. After that, it will become a huge inert crystal ball.
Why do they know it now?
Believe it or not, before there was no certainty, however, a new discovery made it possible to expand the investigation.
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A team of researchers from the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick managed to find direct evidence of a "crystal star". The particularity of the crystal star is that it has passed from the gaseous or liquid state to the solid state.
The discovery was announced this week through an article published in Nature, in which Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay and his team say that despite being the first time they detect it, the sky must be full of this type of stars.
It was previously known of a type of "stellar bodies", the white dwarfs, with nuclei rich in oxygen and carbon, the result of a phase transition very similar to that of water that turns into ice, although a much higher temperatures.
And the white dwarfs? They are the remains of a star similar to the Sun when all its nuclear fuel is finished.
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Fun fact: White dwarfs are among the oldest objects in the entire universe, a muted track that lasts for millions and millions of years. They are also very useful for astronomers, since their life cycle allows them to be used as "cosmic clocks" with which one can estimate the age of nearby stars.
Scientists say that over 95% of the known stars, including our Sun, will go through this phase.
A white dwarf is, eventually, the dense surviving core of a red giant star (another phase through which our Sun will pass) after his death, a shell that gradually cools down.
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To find it, the team selected 15 thousand candidates as white dwarfs and the selection was taken from the observations of Gaia, the European satellite. All the available color and brightness data of the chosen stars were analyzed.
Thus they realized that there was an excessive accumulation of stars with colors and brightness that did not correspond to a single mass or age if put in perspective with the evolutionary models of the stars.
What does it mean? Those stars have found a way to slow down their cooling process and, with it, their aging. This is so impressive that in some cases the aging has decreased up to 2 billion years, 15% of the age of our galaxy.
According to Tremblay:
"This is the first direct evidence that white dwarfs crystallize, passing from the gaseous or liquid state to the solid Five years ago it was expected that we would be able to observe an increase in the number of white dwarfs in some brightness and color values. because of crystallization, but only now have we been able to observe it. "
A sky full of crystal balls?
Tremblay went on to explain:
"All white dwarfs", continues the researcher, "will crystallize at some point in their evolution, even if the biggest white dwarfs pass through this process first, which means that billions of white dwarfs in our galaxy have already completed the process and they are essentially, crystal spheres in the sky, the sun itself will become a crystalline white dwarf in about 10 billion years. "
Crystallization is a process by which a gas or liquid happens to have a solid state, and its atoms form an ordered structure.
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"To explain the observations we not only have evidence of the release of heat on solidification, but also of a considerably greater amount of energy.
We believe that this is due to the fact that oxygen crystallizes first and then sinks into the star's core, in a process similar to the sedimentation in a river bed on Earth. This will push the carbon towards the top and that separation will release gravitational energy. "
This is a big step to determine the precise age of the coldest white dwarfs, and therefore even the oldest stars of the Milky Way.
For the first time we have managed to understand the interior of white dwarfs as never before, now and now we know what our sun will end up with information from the collective culture.