Among the most poignant sights in the heavens are white dwarfs. Although they have a mass comparable to our sun’s, they are among the dimmest of all stars and becoming ever dimmer; they do not follow the usual pattern relating stellar mass to brightness. Astronomers think white dwarfs must not be stars so much as the corpses of stars. Each white dwarf was once much like our sun and shone with the same brilliance. But then it began to run out of fuel and entered its stormy death throes, swelling to 100 times its previous size and brightening 10,000-fold, before shedding its outer layers and shriveling to a glowing cinder the size of Earth. For the rest of eternity, it will sit inertly, slowly fading to blackness.