Researchers have discovered a huge snowman-shaped star with a unique atmospheric composition.
The enormous white dwarf star is known as WDJ0551+4135 and is thought to have resulted from the merger of two so-called white dwarf stars that often explode as powerful supernovas.
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The study including these findings published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy.
White dwarf stars are essentially the dead remains of stars like our sun, once they’ve burned through all of their hydrogen fuel and outer layers.
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Usually, they’re small and lightweight but this star is 1.14 times the mass of our sun which is nearly twice the average mass of a white dwarf star.
“This star stood out as something we had never seen before,” said Mark Hollands, lead study author and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Warwick’s department of physics.
”Initially, these observations didn’t make any sense. The only way you can explain it is if it was formed through a merger of two white dwarfs,” he added.
Astronomers first spotted the star in data collected by the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope, launched in 2013.
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