Glossary term: Stellar Remnants


Stellar remnants is the collective term for white dwarfs, neutron stars, and stellar-mass black holes. These represent the final stage of stellar evolution after a star has both finished hydrogen burning on the main sequence and evolved through the giant phase. Stellar remnants are very compact compared to stars with the largest class, white dwarfs, having approximately a solar mass of material in an object the size of Earth. Stellar remnants do not generate heat from nuclear fusion in their cores. In close binary systems stellar remnants can be the source of novae, Type Ia supernovae or (if two stellar remnants spiral towards each other and collide) bursts of gravitational waves.

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A neutron star appears as a blue spot surrounded by shells of material which appear as red and green rings

Death of a massive star

Caption: A multi-wavelength image taken with telescopes on the Earth and in space of a neutron star within our neighbouring Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy. A neutron star (seen here as the blue spot surrounded by a red ring) is the final product of gravitational collapse, compression and explosion of a massive star, left embedded in its supernova remnant (in green).
Credit: ESO/NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/F. Vogt et al. credit link
License: CC-BY-4.0 Creative Comments Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) icons