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Billions of stars (including the sun) are turning into crystals

Billions of stars (including the sun) are turning into crystals

The twinkling orb may look similar to the other fiery stars around it, but it is actually a ideal sphere of crystal.

For the new study, the researchers looked at Gaia measurements of about 15,000 white dwarfs, all of which lie within 330 light-years of the sun.

The oldest white dwarfs, nearly the age of the Milky Way, are likely to be almost fully crystal Discovery published in Nature exactly fifty years after it was predicted. 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.

"All white dwarfs will crystallize at some point in their evolution, although more massive white dwarfs go through the process sooner", Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay from the University of Warwick's Department of Physics in the United Kingdom explained in a statement. The majority of the stars in the Universe, like the Sun, are moderate in size and they fade away silently. Red dwarfs, the most common type of star, keep burning until they have transformed all their hydrogen into helium, turning into a white dwarf. "This is the first direct evidence that white dwarfs crystallise, or transition from liquid to solid", University of Warwick physicist Pier-Emmanuel Tremblay said in a press release.

White-dwarf crystallization is akin to water freezing from liquid to ice.

"All white dwarfs will crystallize at some point in their evolution, although more massive white dwarfs go through the process sooner", said Dr. Tremblay. Models suggest there are millions of solidified white dwarfs spinning throughout the cosmos. In fact, they all were actually found to be turning into solid spheres through a process of crystallisation.

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About 50 years ago, scientists predicted that the gaseous cores of white dwarfs should crystallise and become solid with the cooling of the hot gases inside them. Before Gaia we had 100-200 white dwarfs with precise distances and luminosities - and now we have 200,000.

That, in turn, has an impact on our understanding of the stellar groupings these white dwarfs are a part of.

White dwarfs are extremely dense stars, so the positively charged nuclei in their cores exist as a fluid, the scientists say.

Not all white dwarfs crystallize at the same pace. More massive stars cool down more rapidly and will reach the temperature at which crystallisation happens in about one billion years.

And when the process is complete they become what are known as black dwarfs - cold crystal spheres that are not detectable with our telescopes because they don't emit energy. Our sun is also expected to end its life in the same manner, crystallizing like a jewel in about 10 billion years.