DATABASE: Archive of Dying Stars

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Science  17 Jan 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5605, pp. 319
DOI: 10.1126/science.299.5605.319d

Instead of ending with the bang of a supernova, most stars go out with a whimper, shriveling into an ember about the size of Earth that will slowly burn out. Known as white dwarfs, these small, faint objects might help scientists gauge the age of our galaxy's disk, and some astronomers suspect that mobs of them loitering on the edge of the Milky Way account for some of the long-sought dark matter. The White Dwarf Database, created by astronomer Jay Holberg of the University of Arizona, Tucson, profiles more than 2100 of these elderly stars. Each entry supplies vital statistics such as the dwarf's coordinates, radius, temperature, gravitational strength, and spectrum. Within the next few months, the size of the database will double when Holberg adds the latest findings from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which is mapping one-fourth of the sky.

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