As per the latest reports out of Chile, two dwarf stars are gradually moving closer to each other. The stars are located deep inside the planetary nebula Henize 2-428.
The pair of stars is expected to smash together causing a cataclysmic supernova explosion. This phenomenon was reported in the Journal Nature: The European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) in Chile used its Very Large Telescope (VLT) to study how stars could result in the production of asymmetric shaped nebulae. When they focused their attention on the Henize 2-248 nebula they noticed this occurrence. Romano Corradi, co-author and researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, took a press release where he commented on how these findings helped astronomers “to determine the orbit of the two stars and deduce both the masses of the two stars and their separation”.
This was when the biggest surprise of all was unearthed; the two stars were white dwarfs, seemingly infinitesimal but densely packed, they contain a total mass that is around 1.8 times greater than our sun. These two stars propels scientific discovery further as it goes to corroborate and explain the theory that double central stars may elucidate the odd shapes presented by some of these nebulae. The two stars follow an orbit pattern of four hour cycles, due to gravitational wave emissions, and are destined for each other. In the next 700 million years, these stars will come together and under the stress of their joint mass, detonate into a giant supernova.
“Until now, the formation of supernovae Type Ia by the merging of two white dwarfs was purely theoretical,” remarked David Jones, an ESO Fellow at the time the data were obtained. “The pair of stars in Henize 2-428 is the real thing!”