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A black dwarf is a theoretical stellar remnant, specifically a white dwarf that has cooled sufficiently that it no longer emits significant heat or light. Because the time required for a white dwarf to reach this state is calculated to be longer than the current age of the universe (13.8 billion years), no black dwarfs are expected to exist in the universe yet, and the temperature of the coolest white dwarfs is one observational limit on the age of the universe. A white dwarf is what remains of a main-sequence star of low or medium mass (below approximately 9 to 10 solar masses (M☉)) after it has either expelled or fused all the elements for which it has sufficient temperature to fuse. What is left is then a dense sphere of electron-degenerate matter that cools slowly by thermal radiation, eventually becoming a black dwarf. If black dwarfs were to exist, they would be extremely difficult to detect, because, by definition, they would emit very little radiation. They would, however, be detectable through their gravitational influence.[
Because the far-future evolution of stars depends on physical questions which are poorly understood, such as the nature of dark matter and the possibility and rate of proton decay, it is not known precisely how long it will take white dwarfs to cool to blackness., § IIIE, IVA. Barrow and Tipler estimate that it would take 1015 years for a white dwarf to cool to 5 K; however, if weakly interacting massive particles exist, it is possible that interactions with these particles will keep some white dwarfs much warmer than this for approximately 1025 years., § IIIE. If protons are not stable, white dwarfs will also be kept warm by energy released from proton decay. For a hypothetical proton lifetime of 1037 years, Adams and Laughlin calculate that proton decay will raise the effective surface temperature of an old one-solar-mass white dwarf to approximately 0.06 K. Although cold, this is thought to be hotter than the cosmic background radiation temperature 1037 years in the future., §IVB.
A black dwarf would have a mainly smooth surface due to the black dwarf's high gravity with very few irregularities (such as mountains). The surface would also be dry with no surface volatiles such as water. The atmosphere of the black dwarf would consist mainly of carbon, and would contain no clouds or weather system due to thinness of the atmosphere