‘Micronova’ explosions spotted on distant zombie stars

An artistic impression of a micronova explosion on a white dwarf. | Image: Mark Garlick

Star explosions can happen on very different scales, from massive supernovae to plain old novae. Now, scientists think they’ve identified an even smaller way for a star’s surface to explode — dubbed the “micronova.” It’s a type of explosion that occurs in just one region on the surface of some stars, lasting for hours at a time but still packing quite a punch.

Specifically, micronovae occur on a type of zombie star known as a white dwarf. These odd objects are actually the leftover cores of dead stars, remnants of celestial bodies like our Sun that have used up all their fuel and blown most of their materials out into space. White dwarfs are quite small but incredibly dense, sometimes the size of Earth but with the same mass as the Sun….

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Author: Loren Grush