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What occurs if a white dwarf exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit?

Last Updated: 23rd January, 2020

If a white dwarf were to exceed the Chandrasekhar limit, and nuclear reactions did not take place, the pressure exerted by electrons would no longer be able to balance the force of gravity, and it would collapse into a denser object called a neutron star.

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People also ask, what happens if a white dwarf exceeds the Chandrasekhar limit?

3 Answers. The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass of a stable white dwarf star. White dwarfs with masses greater than the limit undergo further gravitational collapse, evolving into a different type of stellar remnant, such as a neutron star or black hole.

Furthermore, what happens as the mass of a white dwarf increases? For normal stars, if you increase the mass, the star gets larger, its radius increases. However, for white dwarfs, the opposite is true, increasing the mass shrinks the star. Notice that at some mass the radius of the star goes to zero.

Thereof, what is the mass limit of a white dwarf?

The Chandrasekhar Limit of 1.4 solar masses, is the theoretical maximum mass a white dwarf star can have and still remain a white dwarf (though this limit does vary slightly depending on the metallicity).

What happens when a white dwarf becomes larger than 1.4 solar masses?

A white dwarf star is in balance between gravity and degeneracy pressure, but if the mass is too large (greater than 1.4 solar masses, called the Chandrasekhar limit), the degeneracy pressure is not adequate to hold up the star, and the star collapses. The white dwarf then collapses.

Related Question Answers

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Why is there a maximum mass for white dwarf stars?

Electron Degeneracy. For stellar masses less than about 1.44 solar masses, the energy from the gravitational collapse is not sufficient to produce the neutrons of a neutron star, so the collapse is halted by electron degeneracy to form white dwarfs. This maximum mass for a white dwarf is called the Chandrasekhar limit.

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Why is there a mass limit for white dwarf stars?

This is because the more mass a white dwarf has, the more its electrons must squeeze together to maintain enough outward pressure to support the extra mass. However, there is a limit on the amount of mass a white dwarf can have. Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar discovered this limit to be 1.4 times the mass of the Sun.

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How big is a white dwarf?

A low or medium mass star (with mass less than about 8 times the mass of our Sun) will become a white dwarf. A typical white dwarf is about as massive as the Sun, yet only slightly bigger than the Earth. This makes white dwarfs one of the densest forms of matter, surpassed only by neutron stars and black holes.

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Do white dwarfs add elements back to the universe?

The core that is left behind will be a white dwarf, a husk of a star in which no hydrogen fusion occurs. Smaller stars, such as red dwarfs, don't make it to the red giant state. They simply burn through all of their hydrogen, ending the process as a dim white dwarf.

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Who invented Chandrasekhar limit?

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

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What is meant by Chandrasekhar limit?

Definition of Chandrasekhar limit. : the maximum mass at which a star near the end of its life cycle can become a white dwarf and above which the star will collapse to form a neutron star or black hole : a stellar mass equal to about 1.4 solar masses.

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What do high mass stars become when they die?

The way a star dies depends on how much matter it contains—its mass. When a high-mass star has no hydrogen left to burn, it expands and becomes a red supergiant. While most stars quietly fade away, the supergiants destroy themselves in a huge explosion, called a supernova.

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Could a white dwarf support life?

White dwarfs and brown dwarfs are bright enough to support habitable zones — regions around them warm enough for planets to sustain liquid water on their surfaces. As such, worlds orbiting them might be able support alien life as we know it, as there is life virtually everywhere there is water on Earth.

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Why do white dwarfs explode?

The white dwarf is so dense that its extreme gravity pulls hydrogen gas off of the second star. That hydrogen builds up around the white dwarf, and eventually it gets so hot that it erupts in an extremely bright thermonuclear reaction.

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Why are white dwarfs so hot?

A white dwarf is very hot when it forms, but because it has no source of energy, it will gradually cool as it radiates its energy. This means that its radiation, which initially has a high color temperature, will lessen and redden with time.

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What happens when a white dwarf dies?

A main sequence star that lacks the mass necessary to explode in a supernova will become a white dwarf, a 'dead' star that has burned through all of its hydrogen and helium fuel. But the white dwarf remains hot for some time, much like a stove burner still emits heat even when it has been turned off.

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What is inside a white dwarf?

Stars like our sun fuse hydrogen in their cores into helium. White dwarfs are stars that have burned up all of the hydrogen they once used as nuclear fuel. Fusion in a star's core produces heat and outward pressure, but this pressure is kept in balance by the inward push of gravity generated by a star's mass.

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Are white dwarfs hotter than blue Giants?

Although the bluish-white star is hotter than the red star and thus emits more energy per unit surface area, if it is much smaller than the red star it may still emit less total energy in a given time. Rank the following in order of increasing luminosity: blue supergiant, the Sun, red giant, white dwarf.

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Do white dwarfs die?

Hasn't it burned through all its fuel? A white dwarf is a stellar remnant and can be considered as a dead star in this regard. A "dead" star is one that has no more nuclear fusion going in it. When a star dies, it leaves some remnant behind.

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Are white dwarfs diamonds?

Astronomers aren't being poetic when they say this star is a diamond. Scientists have identified what is possibly the coldest white dwarf ever detected. In fact, this dim stellar corpse is so cold that its carbon has crystallized, effectively forming a diamond the size of Earth, astronomers said.

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What is a white star?

Definition of white star. 1 : a star of spectral type A or F having a moderate surface temperature and a white or yellowish color. 2a : an annual morning glory (Ipomoea lacunosa) of the southern U.S. with star-shaped leaves and small white or purplish flowers.

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What will happen to Earth when the sun becomes a white dwarf?

For about 2 billion years the sun will fuse helium into carbon and some oxygen, but there's less energy in those reactions. Once the last bits of helium turn into heavier elements, there's no more radiant energy to keep the sun puffed up against it's own weight. The core will shrink into a white dwarf.

Xiumei Laz


Why are white dwarfs called?

White dwarf stars, so called because of the white colour of the first few that were discovered, are characterized by a low luminosity, a mass on the order of that of the Sun, and a radius comparable to that of Earth.

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What is meant by degeneracy pressure?

degeneracy pressure. [ dĭ-jĕn′?r-?-sē ] A pressure exerted by dense material consisting of fermions (such as electrons in a white dwarf star). This pressure is explained in terms of the Pauli exclusion principle, which requires that no two fermions be in the same quantum state.