Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 450 (7169), 522-4

White Dwarf Stars With Carbon Atmospheres


White Dwarf Stars With Carbon Atmospheres

P Dufour et al. Nature.


White dwarfs represent the endpoint of stellar evolution for stars with initial masses between approximately 0.07 and 8-10, where is the mass of the Sun (more massive stars end their life as either black holes or neutron stars). The theory of stellar evolution predicts that the majority of white dwarfs have a core made of carbon and oxygen, which itself is surrounded by a helium layer and, for approximately 80 per cent of known white dwarfs, by an additional hydrogen layer. All white dwarfs therefore have been traditionally found to belong to one of two categories: those with a hydrogen-rich atmosphere (the DA spectral type) and those with a helium-rich atmosphere (the non-DAs). Here we report the discovery of several white dwarfs with atmospheres primarily composed of carbon, with little or no trace of hydrogen or helium. Our analysis shows that the atmospheric parameters found for these stars do not fit satisfactorily in any of the currently known theories of post-asymptotic giant branch evolution, although these objects might be the cooler counterpart of the unique and extensively studied PG 1159 star H1504+65 (refs 4-7). These stars, together with H1504+65, might accordingly form a new evolutionary sequence that follows the asymptotic giant branch.

Similar articles

  • Two White Dwarfs With Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres
    BT Gänsicke et al. Science 327 (5962), 188-90. PMID 19965382.
    Stars with masses ranging from 7 to 10 times the mass of the Sun end their lives either as massive white dwarfs or weak type II supernovae, but there are only limited obs …
  • A Large Oxygen-Dominated Core From the Seismic Cartography of a Pulsating White Dwarf
    N Giammichele et al. Nature 554 (7690), 73-76. PMID 29310123.
    White-dwarf stars are the end product of stellar evolution for most stars in the Universe. Their interiors bear the imprint of fundamental mechanisms that occur during st …
  • Probing the Faintest Stars in a Globular Star Cluster
    HB Richer et al. Science 313 (5789), 936-40. PMID 16917054.
    NGC 6397 is the second closest globular star cluster to the Sun. Using 5 days of time on the Hubble Space Telescope, we have constructed an ultradeep color-magnitude diag …
  • The Evolution of Compact Binary Star Systems
    KA Postnov et al. Living Rev Relativ 9 (1), 6. PMID 28163653. - Review
    We review the formation and evolution of compact binary stars consisting of white dwarfs (WDs), neutron stars (NSs), and black holes (BHs). Binary NSs and BHs are thought …
  • Post-main-sequence Planetary System Evolution
    D Veras. R Soc Open Sci 3 (2), 150571. PMID 26998326. - Review
    The fates of planetary systems provide unassailable insights into their formation and represent rich cross-disciplinary dynamical laboratories. Mounting observations of p …
See all similar articles

Cited by 1 PubMed Central articles

  • Evidence for a Glassy State in Strongly Driven Carbon
    CR Brown et al. Sci Rep 4, 5214. PMID 24909903.
    Here, we report results of an experiment creating a transient, highly correlated carbon state using a combination of optical and x-ray lasers. Scattered x-rays reveal a h …

Publication types

LinkOut - more resources