The fastest white dwarf ever seen spins once every 25 seconds

If we somehow managed to land on a newly discovered white dwarf star without being burned to the point of mutilation, the whole day would last only 25 seconds.

That’s because scientists at the University of Warwick, UK, have just observed the fastest spinning white dwarf ever, making one spin every 25 seconds. The dwarf star, named LAMOST J0240 + 1952, beat the previous record holder by five seconds and report in ScienceNews reveals.

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For reference, both the Sun and the Moon rotate approximately once a month on Earth. The LAMOST J0240 + 1952, on the other hand, rotates more than twice a minute. This makes it the fastest star of any kind ever observed by the scientific community – not counting the neutron stars, which are the collapsed nuclei of massive supergiant stars.

The discovery was made by University of Warwick astronomer Ingrid Pelisoli and colleagues after they noticed a burst of light from the white dwarf star, which is next to a red dwarf star. They realized that this brief flash of light occurred once every 24.93 seconds, revealing the period of rotation of the white dwarf. It usually takes a white dwarf hours or days to spin. The newly discovered star, which is located in the constellation Aries, is moving so fast due to the nearby red dwarf star, which supplies gas to LAMOST J0240 + 1952, which makes it rotate incredibly fast. Pellissoli and her team published their findings in paper available on the arXiv prepress server.

White dwarf stars reveal the mysteries of the universe

White dwarf stars are one of the oldest observable celestial objects in the universe, and they have been at the center of several dramatic scientific observations in recent years. Last year, for example, astronomers turned to neutron stars and white dwarf stars to help them prove Einstein’s theory of relativity by monitoring of sliding frame, in which space-time is changed by massive rotating objects.

White dwarfs eventually crystallize into metallic oxygen and carbon. Source: University of Warwick

Astronomers at the University of Warwick have had it before revealed direct observations proves that thousands of white dwarf stars in our galaxy gradually crystallize as they cool for millennia, and that our own sun will one day meet the same fate – though it probably won’t rotate every 25 seconds until it eventually cooled in a crystal core of metallic oxygen and carbon. This discovery means that some white dwarf stars are billions of years older than expected. The oldest of them may be about the same age as the universe itself, which means that unraveling the mysteries of white dwarf stars promises to teach us a lot about the history of space.

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