Two White Dwarfs with Oxygen-Rich Atmospheres

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Science  08 Jan 2010:
Vol. 327, Issue 5962, pp. 188-190
DOI: 10.1126/science.1180228

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Stars with masses ranging from 7 to 10 times the mass of the Sun end their lives either as massive white dwarfs or weak type II supernovae, but there are only limited observational constraints on either evolutionary channel. Here we report the detection of two white dwarfs with large photospheric oxygen abundances, implying that they are bare oxygen-neon cores and that they may have descended from the most massive progenitors that avoid core collapse.

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