White dwarfs are really strange. They’re basically leftover cores from stars that are similar to suns. They live for trillions of years with the help of quantum physics. Astronomers have found the strangest one so far. There’s a dead star that spins twice a second, and it also sucks down material from nearby companions.
When there are stars like the sun that die, they start roaming around the atmosphere, until only the core is left behind. The core is a ball of carbon and oxygen. The ball is about the size of the Earth, and it’s supported by the exotic quantum force that’s called degeneracy pressure.
However, most of the stars don’t really live alone. They have companions, and these stars can orbit while their companion disappears. This companion can begin the final stages of its like or can spiral way too closely. And if it spirals way too closely, then it will start a destructive dance. And if this happens, material from the companion of the star can get on the surface of the white dwarf. It builds a thick layer of hydrogen around the ball of carbon and oxygen. Now here’s the deal: if there is enough material and enough time, something terrible can happen. It can create a flash of nuclear fusion. This means a blast of radiation, which can be visible from light-years away. These events are also known as novas, but scientists started to call them “cataclysmic variable star.”
Recently, a team of astronomers has found a quite interesting cataclysmic variable star, which is called CTCV J2056-3014, or J2056. It’s a binary system that’s placed at about 850 light-years away from Earth. It’s a polar system – gas from the companion star can form an accretion disk around the dwarf, but it is not powerful enough to get to the surface of it.