One Of The Rarest Stars In The Galaxy Discovered

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By Chris Snellgrove | Published

What if the coolest news regarding outer space had nothing to do with aliens or UFOs? Even though everyone is channeling their inner Agent Mulder regarding whether or not Earth has been frequently visited by spacefaring aliens or not, scientists recently discovered something fantastic in the depths of outer space. According to Science Alert, researchers recently confirmed their discovery of a white dwarf pulsar 773 light years away from Earth, and they are understandably excited because this is officially one of the rarest stars in the entire galaxy.

To understand why this is so significant, you need to learn a bit more about white dwarf pulsars. Before this particular discovery, researchers had only confirmed the existence of one other such pulsar before this one. So when we say that this is one of the rarest stars in the entire galaxy, it’s because there are only two of them in the known galaxy.

For those of you that fell asleep in your science classes, a white dwarf pulsar is…well…a white dwarf that acts like a pulsar. Specifically, it has the collapsed core of a dead star that is common to all white dwarfs, but it also sends pulses of light outward that we can detect from hundreds of light years away. This is very similar to the behavior of pulsars, which are known to shoot pulsing beams of light out and have frequently been compared to lighthouses adrift in the cosmos.

Since there was only one white dwarf pulsar for scientists to previously study, there were more questions than answers regarding how that star behaved. Fortunately, finding its distant “sibling” star is already helping the scientific community to answer some of its most burning questions. And the biggest question of all concerns how magnetic fields may be powering these stars’ fantastic motion.

With the previously-discovered white dwarf pulsar, the most puzzling thing about it was that it had a spin rate that seemed to defy everything we previously knew about white dwarfs. One of the leading theories for this fast spinning is that a magnetic field was helping to transfer mass from the nearby red dwarf so that the star could spin with such blazing speed. And studying the pulsar helped scientists advance additional theories concerning the interior of white dwarfs, including a popular theory that an internal dynamo powers these stars.

While these theories are all well and good, scientists studying the cosmos quickly ran into a problem: since they previously only knew of one white dwarf pulsar, it was functionally impossible to compare their notes against different samples. The need to find similar stars led to the discovery of this latest white dwarf pulsar. And the team is hopeful that their methodology may be used to detect other such pulsars and better understand this mysterious cosmic phenomenon.

Even if your eyes cloud over at the mention of terms like “white dwarf pulsar,” remember that every single cosmic discovery helps us learn more about the galaxy around us. This may be particularly good news for those burned out by the blase revelations concerning UFOs in recent days. If intelligent alien life does exist, it may very well use these pulsars to communicate, and understanding more about everything from the pulsing rays to the core of a white dwarf may bring us that much closer to the kind of first contact you’d expect from a good Star Trek episode.

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