It seems like you can’t go a day without hearing news of a merger. Not corporate mergers—those are boring. Mergers between astronomical bodies are where it’s at these days. And it’s not just black holes and neutron stars doing the merging. I honestly had no idea, but it seems that it is not so unusual for stars to be the product of a merger.
Of course, it’s also possible that a collision between two stars would lead to a massive explosion. And, so far at least, it’s been hard to answer the question of what happens when two stars collide: do they explode or go out with a whimper? The observation of a large white dwarf that seems to have been the product of two titchy white dwarfs may support the whimper side.
When stars run out of fuel, their mass determines their fate. Very large stars end spectacularly. The star collapses in on itself, followed by a violent explosion—no going silently into the night around here. As the stellar dust settles, the remains include a neutron star or a black hole. This is the ending for show-offs.
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