A massive dwarf star with a fancifully carbon-rich atmosphere could be two white dwarfs merged together according to research by an international team of astronomers led by Warwick University, and it only miraculously escaped destruction.


Scientists have discovered an unusual supermassive white dwarf about 150 light years from us with an atmospheric composition never seen before. The combined white dwarf was identified due to its atmospheric composition.

The discovery, published today in the journal Nature Astronomy, may raise new questions about the evolution of massive white dwarfs and the number of supernovae in our galaxy.

This star, named WDJ0551 + 4135, was identified by studying data obtained with the Gaia telescope of the European Space Agency. Astronomers continued the spectroscopy made using the William Herschel telescope, focusing on those white dwarfs that were identified as particularly massive. This mission was made possible by the Gaia mission. By breaking the light emitted by the star, astronomers were able to determine the chemical composition of its atmosphere and found that it had an unusually high level of carbon.