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April 11, 2024

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The Fastest Stars in the Galaxy

Sunny Wong , UCSB

When a star like our Sun exhausts its nuclear fuel and sheds its envelope, the dense core is now exposed as a white dwarf. Unable to undergo nuclear fusion, a white dwarf will cool indefinitely. However, if two white dwarfs are in close orbit with each other, the more massive one can pull mass away from its companion, and possibly reignite its nuclear fuel in a supernova explosion that temporarily outshines its galaxy. In the aftermath, the surviving companion flies out at about 1000 kilometers per second, becoming one of the fastest stars in the Galaxy.

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