Density of a White Dwarf Star

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Bibliographic Entry Result
(w/surrounding text)
Standardized
Result
Roliff, James William. Modern Physics from Å to Z0. New York: Wiley, 1994: 544. "The star has become so dense, about 109 kg/m3" 106 g/cm3
Lerner, Rita & George Trigg. Encyclopedia of Physics. New York: VCH, 1990: 809. "Central densities in the range of 105–109 g/cm3." 105–109 g/cm3
Jastrow, Robert. Red Giants and White Dwarfs. New York: Harper Row, 1967: 47. "… have a density of ten tons per cubic inch." 4.55 × 106 g/cm3
Burnham, Robert. Burnham's Celestial Handbook. New York: Dover, 1978: 402. "… weighing about 11,000 tons to the cubic inch." 5.0 × 109 g/cm3
Lang, Kenneth R. and Gingerich, Owen. A Source Book in Astronomy and Astrophysics. London: Harvard University Press, 1979: 430. "… about 100,000 gm cm-3" 105 g/cm3

White dwarf stars are stars that are at the ends of their life, having exhausted the hydrogen and helium in their interiors by nuclear reactions. They are thought to be the final evolutionary stage for stars whose masses are less than 1.4 times the sun's mass. Their future is to cool down very slowly until they become black dwarfs, unable to radiate any more energy.

Most people look at the properties of a white dwarf and say that it is pretty much unclear as to a definite calculation of its density. Science is only as accurate as the methods and materials that the scientists of the day are using. Our present knowledge based upon scientific instruments is far from definite. Many books and references show their calculations to be final. The accuracy of this information is debatable. In calculating the density of a white dwarf star, sources have ranged from 104 g/cm3 to 109 g/cm3.

Michael Scott Erber -- 1996


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