What Are Black Dwarfs Made Of?

What are Black Dwarfs made of

Black Dwarfs are some of the most fascinating galactic phenomena that there are.

They exist across the universe and yet little is known about them by the average member of the public.

Were you to ask someone off the street what a Black Dwarf was they would be unlikely to be able to tell you a great deal.

So, if you have ever wondered what are Black Dwarfs made of then you are in luck because this article will explain exactly what they are made of and how they came to be formed.

What Are Black Dwarfs Made Of?

Let’s start by answering the most straightforward question first – what are Black Dwarfs made of?

Black Dwarf stars are created when a White Dwarf begins to cool and as it cools it turns from a White Dwarf into a Black Dwarf.

White Dwarfs themselves are created when a star like our Sun, after millions of years burning brightly begins to fade and die. The outer shell of the star burns away until only the inner core is left.

This process is known as a planetary nebula event when the star begins to burn even hotter before slowly cooling down.

The cooling will mean that, unlike before, White Dwarfs will no longer produce any light – this is why Black Dwarfs are known as Black Dwarfs because thanks to the cooling process and lack of energy being burned they don’t produce light, unlike other stars.

Once the process of cooling begins it turns from a White Dwarf into a Black Dwarf. The Black Dwarf’s core slowly fuses over time and becomes effectively iron.

Black Dwarfs are, rather macabrely, the corpses of stars like our own Sun – rather than being buried or cremated, the dead stars float around the universe slowly gathering dust and eventually breaking down further and further until there is practically nothing left of them.

It should be noted that of course, this is all theoretical; whilst we can talk fairly authoritatively about the process by which a White Dwarf becomes a Black Dwarf it is one that we in truth know little about.

This is because no one has ever seen a Black Dwarf, in part because none currently exist.

The reason for this is because it is thought that the process which would see a White Dwarf turn into a Black Dwarf is a longer process than the entire history of the known universe meaning that to see a Black Dwarf, we would have to wait much longer than it may be possible for humanity to exist.

Similarly, given that the process is based on a theoretical rather than practical understanding of how White Dwarf star’s final days end it is of course possible that our understanding of the actual process is flawed or incomplete.

So, this explanation is, as far as we know, exactly how Black Dwarfs are made and what they are made of. Now that we’ve explained that, let’s move on to discussing other interesting facts about Black Dwarfs.

Interesting Facts About Black Dwarfs

Interesting Facts About Black Dwarfs

Now that we’ve outlined how Black Dwarfs are made it is worth exploring some other interesting facts about Black Dwarf stars.

As mentioned above, it is worth pointing out that this is all theoretical because given that no such stars currently exist this is based on presumption and theories rather than necessarily hard evidence.

Black Dwarfs are thought to, unlike most other stars, be practically solid. This is because when a star reaches the end of its life and is no longer producing energy the core of it is thought to effectively solidify.

The heart of a Black Dwarf will in theory turn from the gas-like substance that powers most stars into a much harder state.

Over time the core of the star will transform from iron to carbon meaning that the star will effectively become a solid force rather than the more ethereal form that is the case with most stars.

Similarly, the Black Dwarf’s core will mean that it would be in theory easier to walk on it because unlike other stars it wouldn’t be extremely hot or lacking in solid surfaces to land a spacecraft.

However, due to the continued radiation produced by the core of the star, it would in fact still be highly dangerous for anyone or anything to land on a Black Dwarf as it would give them some form of radiation poisoning or even burn up them or their ship, depending on the intensity of the radiation.

It is important to note that even were Black Dwarfs to existed currently then we would not be visible to our current technological advancements because unlike other stars they don’t give off the kind of heat and radiation signatures are needed to pick them up.

As such, were there a Black Dwarf to exist in the universe at the moment (which based on current theories of how Black Dwarfs operate would be possible as the Black Dwarf would be older than the universe) scientists wouldn’t even be able to see it in order to measure it or find out more about it.

Like their near name’s sake, the Black Hole, Black Dwarfs are a phenomenon that we know little about.

Yet unlike Black Holes which have been observed and indeed captured it is unlikely that we will ever see a Black Dwarf unless there is something wrong with the current hypothesis as to how the universe works.

This is of course always a possibility as science is about discovering new things and our current thinking as to how the universe works might be dramatically wrong.

Which means we will likely never know if we are right about them.

Final Thoughts

Black Dwarf stars are important to know about because they are a part of the very fabric of our basic understanding of the future of the universe.

To know how the universe will end or even how it will progress in millions of years means we have a better idea of how the universe is working at the moment.

By understanding our place in the universe, we can ensure that we can not only go out to other planets and make even greater discoveries that can benefit our own Earth but we can make discoveries that can help humanity spread throughout the stars.

By being able to predict what will happen to our own star in millions of years we give generations thousands of years away from our own the opportunity to plan their future properly and to ensure their own survival.

Indeed, even if the theory of Black Dwarfs is not entirely accurate, knowing that we have at least tried to answer one of the great cosmic questions of what happens to a star when it dies should imbue us all with pride as to the collective inquisitiveness of humanity.

We are a species that is striving towards a more inviting and interesting future and one that cannot be said to have failed in any mission to properly understand and explore the stars.

Knowing that we can collectively strive and search for answers should inspire us all to look to the stars and wonder what we will find next.

Gordon Watts