Nova

1996. Acrylic on canvas panel. 22"x28".

White dwarfs are among the tiniest and dimmest stars in our Milky Way galaxy. Yet under the right conditions they can flare up and blaze many thousands of times brighter than normal.

An average star will eventually become a feeble white dwarf after exhausting its nuclear fuels. However, a white dwarf in a binary star system may attract the gases necessary for nuclear fusion from its stellar companion. The brightness of the white dwarf increases dramatically when this gas is ignited on its surface and it may briefly outshine all but the most brilliant stars in our galaxy.

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