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Released to Public: White Dwarf Spiral (NASA/GSFC/Chandra X-Ray Observatory) | by
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Released to Public: White Dwarf Spiral (NASA/GSFC/Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

Public Domain. Suggested credit: NASA/Tod Strohmayer (GSFC)/Dana Berry (Chandra X-Ray Observatory) . For more information Visit NASA's Multimedia Gallery You may wish to consult NASA's

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About 1,600 light-years away, in a binary star system fondly known as J0806, two dense white dwarf stars orbit each other once every 321 seconds. Based on data from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, astronomers believe that the stars' already impressively short orbital period is steadily becoming shorter. Because of this, the two stars are destined to merge.


Depicted in this artist's vision, the death spiral of the remarkable J0806 system is a consequence of Einstein's theory of General Relativity that predicts the white dwarf stars will lose their orbital energy by generating gravity waves. In fact, J0806 could be one of the brightest sources of gravitational waves in our galaxy, directly detectable by future space-based gravity wave instruments.


Image credit: NASA/Tod Strohmayer (GSFC)/Dana Berry (Chandra X-Ray Observatory)

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Taken on April 2, 2007