ASTR100 (Spring 2008) Introduction to Astronomy White Dwarfs

# ASTR100 (Spring 2008) Introduction to Astronomy White Dwarfs

## ASTR100 (Spring 2008) Introduction to Astronomy White Dwarfs

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1. ASTR100 (Spring 2008) Introduction to AstronomyWhite Dwarfs Prof. D.C. Richardson Sections 0101-0106

2. What is a White Dwarf?

3. White dwarfs are the remaining cores of dead stars. Electron degeneracy pressure supports them against gravity. Sirius A (X-ray image) Sirius B

4. White dwarfs cool off and grow dimmer with time.

5. Size of a White Dwarf Earth • White dwarfs with the same mass as the Sun are about the same size as Earth. • Higher-mass white dwarfs are smaller.

6. Exotic Matter… • A single teaspoon of white dwarf matter would weigh several tons on Earth! Why? • White dwarf density is enormous: Density = (mass) / (volume) = (2 x 1030 kg) / ((4/3) (6 x 106 m)3) = 2 x 109 kg/m3. • By comparison, water has a density of 1000 kg/m3. • So a white dwarf is 2 million times denser than water!

7. The White Dwarf Limit • Quantum mechanics says electrons must move faster as they are squeezed into a very small space. • As a white dwarf’s mass approaches 1.4 MSun, its electrons must move at nearly the speed of light. • Because nothing can move faster than light, a white dwarf cannot be more massive than 1.4 MSun, the white dwarf limit. S. Chandrasekhar

8. What can happen to a white dwarf in a close binary system?

9. A star that started with less mass gains mass from its companion. • Eventually the mass-losing star will become a white dwarf. • What happens next?

10. Accretion Disks • Mass falling toward a white dwarf from its companion has some angular momentum. • The matter therefore orbits the white dwarf in an accretion disk.

11. Accretion Disks • Friction in the disk causes material to… • …spiral in… • …heat up… • …and glow.

12. Simulation of an Accretion Disk

13. Thought Question What would gas in a disk do if there were no friction? • It would orbit indefinitely. • It would eventually fall in. • It would blow away.

14. Thought Question What would gas in a disk do if there were no friction? • It would orbit indefinitely. • It would eventually fall in. • It would blow away.

15. Nova • The temperature of accreted matter eventually becomes hot enough for hydrogen fusion. • Fusion begins suddenly and explosively, causing a nova.

16. Nova • The nova star system temporarily appears much brighter. • The explosion drives accreted matter out into space.

17. Thought Question What happens to a white dwarf when it accretes enough material to reach the 1.4 Msun limit? • It explodes. • It collapses into a neutron star. • It gradually begins fusing carbon in its core.

18. Thought Question What happens to a white dwarf when it accretes enough material to reach the 1.4 Msun limit? • It explodes. • It collapses into a neutron star. • It gradually begins fusing carbon in its core.

19. Two Types of Supernova • Massive star supernova: Iron core of massive star reaches white dwarf limit and collapses into a neutron star, causing explosion. • White dwarf supernova: Carbon fusion suddenly begins as white dwarf in close binary system reaches white dwarf limit, causing total explosion.

20. One way to tell supernova types apart is with a light curve showing how luminosity changes.

21. White Dwarf Nova or Supernova? • Supernovae are MUCH MUCH more luminous (about 10 million times!). • Nova: H to He fusion of a layer of accreted matter; white dwarf left intact. • Supernova: complete explosion of white dwarf; nothing left behind.

22. Supernova Type: Massive Star or White Dwarf? • Light curves differ. • Spectra differ (exploding white dwarfs don’t have hydrogen absorption lines).

23. ASTR100 (Spring 2008) Introduction to AstronomyNeutron Stars Prof. D.C. Richardson Sections 0101-0106

24. What is a Neutron Star?

25. A neutron star is the ball of neutrons left behind by a massive-star supernova. Degeneracy pressure of neutrons supports a neutron star against gravity.

26. A neutron star is about the same size as a small city.

27. Exotic Matter, Part II… • A paper clip of neutron star matter would weigh more than Mt. Everest! • A neutron star is even denser than a white dwarf: Density = (mass) / (volume) = (5 x 1030 kg) / ((4/3) (1 x 104 m)3) = 1018 kg/m3. • That’s a billion times denser than a white dwarf!

28. How were neutron stars discovered?

29. Discovery of Neutron Stars • Using a radio telescope in 1967, Jocelyn Bell noticed very regular pulses of radio emission coming from a single part of the sky. • The pulses were coming from a spinning neutron star—a pulsar.

30. Pulsar at center of Crab Nebula pulses 30 times per second.

31. X-rays Visible light

32. Pulsars • A pulsar is a neutron star that beams radiation along a magnetic axis that is not aligned with the rotation axis.

33. Pulsars • The radiation beams sweep through space like lighthouse beams as the neutron star rotates.

34. The “Sounds” of Pulsars Typical pulsar 1 rot/sec Fastest pulsar 640 rot/sec Vela Pulsar 10 rot/sec Crab Pulsar 30 rot/sec Fast pulsar 170 rot/sec Sounds recorded at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

35. Why Pulsars Must Be Neutron Stars Circumference of NS = 2 (radius) ~ 60 km. Spin rate of fastest pulsars ~ 1000 cycles per second. Surface rotation speed ~ 60,000 km/s. ~ 20% speed of light. ~ escape speed from NS. Anything else would be torn to pieces!

36. Pulsars spin fast because core’s spin speeds up as it collapses into neutron star. Conservation of angular momentum

37. Thought Question Could there be neutron stars that appear as pulsars to other civilizations but not to us? • Yes. • No.

38. Thought Question Could there be neutron stars that appear as pulsars to other civilizations but not to us? • Yes. • No.

39. What can happen to a neutron star in a close binary system?

40. Matter falling toward a neutron star forms an accretion disk, just as in a white-dwarf binary.

41. Accreting matter adds angular momentum to a neutron star, increasing its spin. Episodes of fusion on the surface lead to X-ray bursts.

42. Neutron Star Limit • Quantum mechanics says that neutrons in the same place cannot be in the same state. • Neutron degeneracy pressure can no longer support a neutron star against gravity if its mass exceeds about 3 MSun. • So what happens in that case?…

43. ASTR100 (Spring 2008) Introduction to AstronomyBlack Holes Prof. D.C. Richardson Sections 0101-0106

44. What is a black hole?

45. What is a black hole? • A black hole is an object whose gravity is so powerful that not even light can escape it. • Some massive star supernovae can make a black hole if enough mass falls onto the core.

46. Thought Question What happens to the escape speed from an object if you shrink it? • It increases. • It decreases. • It stays the same.

47. Thought Question What happens to the escape speed from an object if you shrink it? • It increases. • It decreases. • It stays the same. Hint:

48. Thought Question What happens to the escape speed from an object if you shrink it? • It increases. • It decreases. • It stays the same. Hint:

49. Escape Speed • The formula for the escape speed is: (escape speed)2 = 2 G (mass) / (radius). • So the denser the object, the harder it is to escape from it. • What if escape speed = c?…

50. Light would not be able to escape Earth’s surface if you could shrink it to < 1 cm.