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ROSAT makes classy finding.

ROSAT, the German-U.S.-British satellite, has used its X-ray eyes to detect a new class of star, reports Joachim Trumper of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany. Dubbed supersoft sources, these stars -- about 15 of which ROSAT has detected in Andromeda and other nearby galaxies -- appear unusually bright in the light of very low energy X-rays, yet appear dim at higher energies.

Trumper and others suggest that the stars are a type of white dwarf -- long sought, yet never before detected -- that radiates low-energy X-rays 1,000 times more intensely than any other known white dwarf with a stellar partner. He speculates that the partners continously feed just enough mass to the dwarfs to trigger a slow, steady nuclear burning characteristic of the radiation detected by ROSAT. With too little mass, the dwarfs would undergo a series of staccato, high-energy surface explosions; too much mass, and the dwarfs would evolve into puffed-up stars called red giants, which also don't emit many low-energy X-rays.
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Title Annotation:German-United States-British satellite detects very soft stars that emit low-energy, intense X-rays
Author:Cowen, Ron
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 2, 1993
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