White Dwarf Mergers and the Rebirth of Luminous Stars

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Science  28 Jun 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5577, pp. 2344-2345
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073695

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White dwarfs are formed when stars have exhausted their ability for thermonuclear fusion. Models predict that helium white dwarfs (one of the two types of known white dwarfs) should not yet exist in our Galaxy. In his Perspective, Heber discusses recent studies on alternative formation pathways for these enigmatic species. He concludes that mergers of white dwarf binaries are strong candidates but other formation pathways may also exist.