Oddball stars discovered in new Hubble images

Apr 27, 2009
Photo courtesy of Jay Anderson / Space Telescope Science Institute

(PhysOrg.com) -- Professor Adrienne Cool has discovered 24 unusual stars in an ancient star cluster in the Milky Way. Made of helium rather than the usual carbon and oxygen, these white dwarf stars appear as faint, pale blue dots as spotted in new Hubble telescope images.

In a new study, Cool and former SF State graduate student Rachel Strickler suggest that these stars are coupled with close companion stars, which may explain how they came to be formed and why they are made of helium.

"Helium-core have only about half the mass of typical white dwarfs, but they are found concentrated in the center of the star cluster" said Cool, professor of physics and astronomy. "With such low masses, the helium-core white dwarfs ought to be floating all around the cluster, according to theory. The fact that we find them only in the central regions suggests that they have heavy companions -- partner that anchor them to the cluster center."

Cool and her collaborators suggest that these helium-core white dwarfs have had their lives cut short by the partner star, which has interfered with their normal development and stopped the star from fully maturing.

Cool and Strickler, now a doctoral student at University of California, Santa Cruz, co-authored the study with collaborators from the Space Telescope Science Institute, Indiana University and the Max Planck Institute in Germany. It will be published in the July 1, 2009, issue of The .

Provided by San Francisco State University (news : web)

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User comments : 14

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LuckyBrandon
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 27, 2009
dont you just hate the way they change the article title and repost it as if its new news....
brant
1.8 / 5 (5) Apr 27, 2009
How about solar theory is wrong?
superhuman
4.5 / 5 (4) Apr 27, 2009
With such low masses, the helium-core white dwarfs ought to be floating all around the cluster, according to theory. The fact that we find them only in the central regions suggests that they have heavy companions -- partner stars that anchor them to the cluster center.


Seriously this is getting ridiculous - when theories don't agree with data they need to be questioned, yet it seems many in physics are unable to do it and will just keep adding more and more invisible stuff - dark matter, dark energy, and now dark companion stars.

There is one theme common to all those articles about cosmology - our models completely fail when it comes to explaining the Universe. To postulate that 95% of all energy content of the Universe in made of some exotic invisible matter and energy is just absurd. It means you have to invent 19 additional universes to explain the one we can observe. If this is not a proof that on cosmic scales our theories are blatantly wrong then what is?

Realizing what we don't know is just as important in science as realizing what we do know, and for progress it might even be more important. Pretending that our models are fine when they are contradicted by data is stupid, it is hurting the progress and damaging the reputation of science, it brings science dangerously close to religion since falsifiability is the only thing which sets those two apart.

Our physics is as applicable to cosmology as Newtonian physics is to relativistic motion.
earls
3 / 5 (2) Apr 27, 2009
Yes, quite the conundrums we face when we only have one force at our disposal.
retro
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 28, 2009
One fundamental problem may be that events described by physical theories are framed in terms of an ideal, abstract, space-- mathematical space, which is generally differentiable, ordered, etc whereas events in the real world take place in a non-abstract physical space that might have properties not found in the abstract, mathematical, formal, spaces used for calculations. I really know of no way to get around that.
wiyosaya
1 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2009
With such low masses, the helium-core white dwarfs ought to be floating all around the cluster, according to theory. The fact that we find them only in the central regions suggests that they have heavy companions -- partner stars that anchor them to the cluster center.


Seriously this is getting ridiculous - when theories don't agree with data they need to be questioned, yet it seems many in physics are unable to do it and will just keep adding more and more invisible stuff - dark matter, dark energy, and now dark companion stars.

There is one theme common to all those articles about cosmology - our models completely fail when it comes to explaining the Universe. To postulate that 95% of all energy content of the Universe in made of some exotic invisible matter and energy is just absurd. It means you have to invent 19 additional universes to explain the one we can observe. If this is not a proof that on cosmic scales our theories are blatantly wrong then what is?

Realizing what we don't know is just as important in science as realizing what we do know, and for progress it might even be more important. Pretending that our models are fine when they are contradicted by data is stupid, it is hurting the progress and damaging the reputation of science, it brings science dangerously close to religion since falsifiability is the only thing which sets those two apart.

Our physics is as applicable to cosmology as Newtonian physics is to relativistic motion.


Gotta admit that I had the same reaction to that statement. The article cites no evidence to support the astronomer's conclusions, however, the astronomer would rather hang on to theory - perhaps avoiding ostracization - rather than commit a "sin" against "accepted" and therefore always correct "science."

It is unfortunate, at best, criminal, at worst, that there are scientists out there who are incapable of questioning whether theory is actually correct when data does not necessarily validate theory. Yet that is the "easy" way out. To rethink theory _may_ be more complicated, but maybe not.

Perhaps the collegiate system should get rid of grading on curves. I live in an area that has a top 20 in the US university. This school grades on a curve. Basically, if everyone gets a 0 on an exam for a class, then everyone passes that exam. Yes, it is that bad as I experienced it first-hand and have heard similar anecdotes from other students of the same university. But, we cannot have all those parents complaining that their children are not getting passing grades now can we?

I would love to see the Obama administration take on this side of "hokey" science, but I am not optimistic that this will happen.

Too bad the astronomer is, apparently, incapable of thinking of other reasons why the stars are clustered in the center of the region. Must be a "scientist" in name only.
Merkk
1 / 5 (1) Apr 28, 2009
I propose that the universe is made up of 12 different materials only 5 of which can be observed at any one time. The most exotic of what I like to call superduperdark energy. My only basis for this theory is the existance of another proposed material called baloney which apparently can only be detected through reports such as the one found above.

The great news about my theory is that it fits in perfectly with the current model.

Now may I please have 143.68 million dollars to further study this phenomenon?
yyz
not rated yet Apr 28, 2009
Here%u2019s the arXiv.org link to the preprint: http://arxiv.org/abs/0904.3496 . The authors state that this is 'the first extended sequence of Helium White Dwarfs found in a globular cluster' They also conclude that the Helium Dwarfs near the center of post core-collapse cluster require 'heavy White Dwarf companions' to occupy their present position in NGC 6397.
yyz
not rated yet Apr 29, 2009
Astronomers with a (hidden) agenda? Astrophysicists conspiring to hide the 'truth'? It all sounds like something out of the 'DaVinci Code'. X-Files fodder. I would guess that the paper this article is based on is just propaganda from scientists conspiring to hide the 'truth' from some of the people posting here (who in all likelihood have not even read the paper). Or would that be a waste of time, because these researchers are all 'in on it'. I've not seen one post referring to an explanation for these Helium Dwarf stars being found in high concentration near the center of the post core-collapse globular cluster NGC 6397. This cluster also has an an unusual concentration of millisecond pulsars near its core. Obviously this strange globular cluster poses many questions and offers some clues as to how it ended up as we find it. @Oliver K. Manuel: I would be interested in any published work directly relating your theories to the globular cluster NGC 6397 and the distribution of Helium Dwarfs near its center.
denijane
1 / 5 (1) Apr 29, 2009
When did astronomers become scientists? :)
No offence, but people whose only significant act is to denominate planets are not to be expected to question the easy theories.

The funniest thing is that when you read articles in arxiv, you see the same 15 people in the most cited ones and they always tell you-this doesn't fit the theory and think of thousand ways to modify the theory to fit. When the theory is obviously wrong. And when this non-fitting behaviour repeat in 50% of the cases. (like in GRBs).
yyz
4.5 / 5 (2) Apr 29, 2009
How do you explain papers at the arXiv site dealing with MOND? I've seen scores of papers posted on MOND, yet this is surely not a mainstream idea by any means. Are peer reviewers also in league with MOND proponents as well? And what theory do you have to offer to explain whatever it is your going on about? This 'peer conspiracy' theory is hogwash, not just at arXiv, but other peer-reviewed venues, like Nature & Science magazine.
lengould100
not rated yet May 01, 2009
Just as you can ask for evidence to support a scientific theory, I can ask for evidence to support your conspiracy theory. Evidence please?
LuckyBrandon
not rated yet May 01, 2009
you mean someone actually ranked me a one when this is the 3rd article with a new title with the EXACT SAME COMMENT...that shoulda got a 5...lol
jeffsaunders
not rated yet Jun 05, 2009
I have a theory that can put helium stars in these globular clusters in different location without requiring them to have heavy companions.

I am sure others can too - it fits neatly with universe construction and does not require a see of anti-matter to exist in intergalactic space.

Also does not require MOND although I can see how MOND would appear correct from the same forces at work. ALso does not require spooky force acting at a distance or faster than light gravitons.

The entire process is quite complicated to explain here but is simple to visualise to people with ability to think for themselves and that do not require that everything must fit into current square hole.

Simple put gravity is not inherent quality of matter but is merely a reaction of matter to background radiationof universe which in turn is radiation from stars from extreme distances.

As we all know light loses energy as it travels and interacts with matter on those travels hence the red shift of out very own sun, which by the way is a well known and documented fact. Light loses energy and this is observed in longer wavelengths the longer the wavelength is the more the wave penetrates matter before reacting with it.

Gamma rays react very badly with surface of matter and blast right into matter because the react with every little bit. Longer wavelengths like light react by raising temperature of matter. Still Longer wavelengths like radio enter matter and heat it little but tend to push on matter. Longer still wavelengths penetrate further and have greater push.

Gravity is a push of long and very long wavelength photons. Now we also have idea that if you are inside a high mass sphere you will not have much gravity effect i.e. inside a hollow asteroid you may be weightless at the center.

Gravity is the evident force of the shadow of matter impinged upon by long wavelength photons. Hence a planet orbiting the sun appears to be affected by gravity of the sun at speeds greater then the speed of light. This is optical effect only.

The same hollow sphere effect causes stars in a galaxy to rotate at different velocity than they would if each star was the source of its own gravity - not the case.

So MOND is no longer needed to explain gravity anomaly and also simultaneously the problem of these helium stars is explained in a way we can all understand easily.

The universal background radiation does not penetrate as much through these areas of high density stars so therefore gravity (as we measure it) is somewhat lower inside these areas and hence helium does not float as high as it otherwise would.

See it is all quite simple really and explains so much.