White dwarf star remnants – because they aren’t actually stars, I found out – are the meat and potatoes of our cosmic stew. These guys are everywhere and they’re telling us so much about our reality. Even the weird ones give us more than any other universal body.
I first ran into these interesting little bodies while on the hunt for a star that might host life beyond the type our Sun is. Cool bodies that don’t put off a lot of light, or bright tiny balls of heat looking to suck material from other stars, these husks give a lot of options for the types of situations a civilization can encounter. The immense variety is a boon for speculative fiction writers of all kinds. The best part is the actual science behind white dwarfs if pretty straight forward. No massive solar flares or abnormal spikes of radiation without a readily apparent answer.
Probably the best part of these stellar ghosts might be the species that evolve in those systems. A Neptune pulled into close orbit of the dwarf as it collapses back in on itself, most of the atmosphere blown away. What rises on such a world? Some with no real light to grow in, but a warm ocean to thrive beneath. Maybe a rogue world is captured into a fast little dance around a little ball of light its own size with no real night because they circle each other too fast, giving great, sentient plants a chance at observing the universe.
Maybe an old, old world has to watch as the last dying rays of its once beautiful host fades into the darkness. Makes me wonder what will happen in our system when the light that gives us life will be snuffed out forever. My hope is that a new one will grow in its place, to shine on whatever is left of our backwater system.
Science in the pursuit of fiction.