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White Dwarfs in Binary Stars

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Over the past ten years we have started to discover large numbers of white dwarfs in binaries with low mass stars or other white dwarfs. I will show how these systems are starting to provide us with observational tests of how white dwarfs build up mass through accretion, a long-standing stumbling block for “single degenerate” models of Type Ia supernovae. I will show how the same observations can test the structure models that underlie all white dwarf research, including their future use in mapping the star formation history of the Milky way. Finally, I will discuss evidence for planetary debris around white dwarfs, and planets around white dwarf binaries.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

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