Why WD 1145+017 is Important
White dwarf stars provide us with time-travel views of our solar system's future. Almost all stars become white dwarfs after their supply of hydrogen fuel in the core is exhausted. For decades astronomers have wondered if a star's solar system survives the transition from a normal star through an expansion phase to a red giant, followed by a shrinking phase to an earth-sized white dwarf. The answer came slowly, and the first hint of it was from spectroscope measurements of white dwarf atmospheres; it was found that 1/3 of white dwarfs were "polluted" with minerals that had to come from planets or asteroids generating dust that continually fell upon the white dwarf atmosphere. So "Yes, some stars retain part of their solar system after becoming white dwarfs."
But the ultimate proof came when WD1145 was discovered: it had dust clouds in orbit around it that would block the white dwarf's starlight every orbit. This discovery hinged on the good fortune that the WD1145 system was oriented favorably, presenting an edge-on view to Earth. The dust cloud orbit periods ranged from 4.5 to 4.9 hours, which required that the orbiting objects have densities of at least 6 g/cc. This density can only be found in planetary cores, so this was evidence that a planet had survived the transition to a white dwarf. This was evidence that "For most stars their asteroids and planets will survive and accompany them on their eternal journeys as white dwarfs - for billions, if not trillions, of years."
Our sun and solar system are 4.5 billion years old. In another 4 or 5 billion years our sun will undergo the transition to a white dwarf. Afterward, our sun will remain a white dwarf forever – for 100 billion years, or however long the universe lasts. Our sun, like most stars, will therefore spend most of it total lifetime as a white dwarf accompanied by most of our present solar system of planets and asteroids. This is an amazing discovery!
Mukremin Kilic's pro/am search of dusty WDs for dips: https://www.nhn.ou.edu/%7Ekilic/Docs/dusty.html
Some observing "good practices" for amateurs (book): Exoplanet Observing for Amateurs
Hereford Arizona Observatory (HAO): http://www.brucegary.net/HAO/
Tutorial for faint object observing techniques using amateur hardware: http://brucegary.net/asteroids/
Master list of my web pages & Resume
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