Deep-Space Discovery: Oddball Gamma-Ray Burst Forces Revision of Theoretical Framework

In the Dec. 7 issue of the journal Nature, an international team of astrophysicists report the discovery of a unique cosmological gamma-ray burst (GRB) that defies prevailing theories of how the violent cosmic explosions form.

Record EOS measurement pressures shed light on stellar evolution

Using the power of the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s highest-energy laser system, researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and an international team of collaborators have developed an experimental capability for measuring the basic properties of matter, such as the equation of state (EOS), at the highest pressures thus far achieved in a controlled laboratory experiment. The results are relevant to the conditions at the cores of giant planets, the interiors of brown dwarfs (failed stars), the carbon envelopes of white dwarf stars and many applied science programs at LLNL. According to the authors, the overlap with white dwarf envelopes is particularly significant – this new research enables experimental benchmarks of the basic properties of matter in this regime. The results should ultimately lead to improved models of white dwarfs, which represent the final stage of evolution for most stars in the universe.

Study: Dying Stars Breathe Life Into Earth

As dying stars take their final few breaths of life, they gently sprinkle their ashes into the cosmos through the magnificent planetary nebulae. These ashes, spread via stellar winds, are enriched with many different chemical elements, including carbon.

Findings from a study published today in Nature Astronomy show that the final breaths of these dying stars, called white dwarfs, shed light on carbon’s origin in the Milky Way.