White dwarf stars composed of carbon, oxygen and heavier elements are expected to crystallize as they cool down below certain temperatures. Yet, simple arguments suggest that the helium white dwarf cores may not solidify, mostly because of zero-point oscillations of the helium ions that would dissolve the crystalline structure. We argue that the interior of the helium dwarfs may instead form a macroscopic quantum state in which the charged helium-4 nuclei are in a Bose-Einstein condensate, while the relativistic electrons form a neutralizing degenerate Fermi liquid. We discuss the electric charge screening, and the spectrum of this substance, showing that the bosonic long-wavelength fluctuations exhibit a mass gap. Hence, there is a suppression at low temperatures of the boson contribution to the specific heat - the latter being dominated by the specific heat of the electrons near the Fermi surface. This state of matter may have observational signatures.
- Cosmological phase transitions
- Quantum field theory on curved space
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics