"White Dwarf" by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger / Public Domain

Astronomers spot never-before-seen gravitational wave source from binary white dwarf stars

Apr 6, 2020

By Chelsea Gohd

Astronomers have detected two stellar corpses whirling around each other, and they might be producing gravitational waves.

White dwarf stars are what become of stars like our sun after they run out of fuel and turn into leftover hot cores. For many years, researchers have predicted that there should be binary, or two-object, systems made up of white dwarf stars. According to general relativity, two such masses orbiting each other should emit energy in the form of gravitational waves, which are ripples or disturbances in the fabric of spacetime.

Now, this is not the discovery of gravitational waves, rather it is the discovery of this binary which may be a source for gravitational waves. But, not only will this study advance our understanding of these systems and gravitational wave sources, it will also be important in validating the efficiency of an instrument that will launch in 2034.

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