Astrophysics (Index)About

Chandrasekhar limit

(maximum mass of a white dwarf)

The Chandrasekhar limit is the maximum mass at which gravity allows a white dwarf to remain stable, i.e., above this mass, it will collapse into a neutron star. The limit assumes no magnetic field or rotation is counteracting gravity: if either is present, the mass can be somewhat larger. The limit is the point at which gravity overcomes electron degeneracy pressure, the mechanism that supports a white dwarf. Its current estimate is 1.44 solar masses. Such a limit was first calculated in 1929 and 1930 by Edmund Clifton Stoner and Wilhelm Anderson, and later was refined by Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar. Stars losing their thermonuclear-generated heat and pressure that remain sufficiently massive after ejecting mass to exceed this limit collapse into neutron stars or black holes. White dwarfs accreting matter can reach this limit and collapse as well. Some of these collapses result in various types of supernovae.

The analogous limit above which an object must collapse into a black hole is the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit.

(astrophysics,stars,white dwarfs,constant,limit,mass)
Further reading:

Referenced by pages:
dynamical instability
Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit (TOV)
white dwarf (WD)