Astronomers discover star with oxygen atmosphere

Posted by News Express | 1 April 2016 | 2,722 times

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Astronomers announced Thursday the discovery of a new type of star with an unusual atmosphere full of oxygen, a celestial body never seen before.

The discovery of the super-dense white dwarf star will help scientists better understand how stars evolve and decay.

The star, officially named SDSS J124043.01+671034.68 but nicknamed “Dox”, has been dead for a very long time, increasing its gravitational pull.

With the higher gravity, lighter gases like helium and hydrogen float away from the star’s surface.

As other gases are stripped away, oxygen, a heavier element, is left behind and now the star’s atmosphere is almost completely comprised of oxygen.

Astronomers in Brazil and Germany found the star by pouring over the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a massive survey of the universe that uses data from a dedicated telescope in New Mexico.

The SDSS covers roughly 35 percent of the sky and observes an estimated 500 million objects.

The findings were published Thursday in the journal Science.

“The finding could challenge the textbook wisdom of single stellar evolution, and provide a critical link to some types of supernovae discovered over the past decade,” the American Association for the Advancement of Science said in a statement.

Dox is slightly bigger than Earth but contains a mass equal to 60 percent of the sun.

Scientists are still trying to understand how and why Dox’s atmosphere became full of oxygen.

“This chemical composition is unique among known stars and must arise from an extremely rare process,” Boris Gänsicke, an astronomer in the U.K. who was not involved in the study, wrote in an essay for Science accompanying the findings.

While human beings require oxygen to survive, NASA will not be sending a mission to Dox anytime soon.

Before astronauts could take a breath, they would be instantly crushed by the extreme pressure on the star. (Anadolu Agency)


Source: News Express

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