White Dwarfs: Structural & Evolutionary Overview

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In summary, the conversation is about the difficulty of finding reliable sources of information for an essay on the structure and evolution of white dwarfs. The individual has four books on the topic, but they all differ from each other in terms of the equations used. They are seeking clarification on the differences and a reliable source for information. One potential source is a link provided for a website that discusses the basic mechanism of white dwarf evolution.
  • #1
charlie85
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Alrite. I am currently trying to write a essay on the structure and evolution of white dwarfs but can't really find any decent websites on this topic. anyone know of any reliable sources of info? i have four books on the topic but all seem to differ from each other when it comes to the actual equations. cheers for any help
 
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  • #2
charlie85 said:
i have four books on the topic but all seem to differ from each other when it comes to the actual equations.

Can you be more specific? I'm curious about how they differ from one another, as it may just be a different formalism. If so, we may be able to explain it for you.
 
  • #3
The basic mechanism is pretty simple. When a star exhausts its fuel supply, gravity takes over and compresses it to the greatest density permitted. For just about any star less than 1.4 solar masses, this is the electron degeneracy limit [very dense]. Here is one link, try a search using 'white dwarf evolution' for more [lots more]:
http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/physics/astronomy/as102-spr00/web_pages/web8.html
 

Related to White Dwarfs: Structural & Evolutionary Overview

1. What is a white dwarf?

A white dwarf is a small, dense, and extremely hot star that is the end stage of stellar evolution for most stars. It is formed when a star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity.

2. How big are white dwarfs?

White dwarfs have a typical size range of 0.01 to 0.1 times the size of our Sun. This means that they are relatively small and compact compared to other types of stars.

3. What is the composition of white dwarfs?

White dwarfs are mainly composed of carbon and oxygen, with smaller amounts of helium and other elements. The core of a white dwarf is extremely dense, with a mass of 1.4 times that of our Sun packed into a sphere the size of Earth.

4. How do white dwarfs evolve?

White dwarfs evolve by gradually cooling and dimming over billions of years. As they cool, they also shrink in size. Eventually, they will become so cold and dim that they will no longer emit any visible light, becoming what is known as a black dwarf.

5. Can white dwarfs explode?

Yes, under certain conditions, white dwarfs can undergo a supernova explosion. This typically occurs when a white dwarf accretes material from a companion star, causing it to reach a critical mass and explode. These explosions are known as Type Ia supernovae and are important for measuring the expansion rate of the universe.

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