Белый карлик

by Don  

The word карлик by itself can be translated midget, dwarf, little person, gnome or Lilliputian.¹ In that sense the noun is animate:

Роль профессора Флитвика исполняет знаменитый английский актёр-карлик Уорвик Дэвис. (source) The role of Professor Flitwick is performed by the famous English dwarf-actor Warwick Davis.
Ты видишь того карлика около киоска с мороженым? Оказывается, что он профессор ядерной физики. Do you see that little person near the ice cream stand? It turns out that his is a professor of nuclear physics.

The phrase белый карлик means white dwarf, in the sense of a particular class of stars:

Белые карлики — проэволюционировавшие звёзды с массой, не превышающей предел Чандрасекара, лишённые собственных источников термоядерной энергии.
. (source)
White dwarfs are final-stage stars with a mass below the Chandrasekhar limit that no longer have the resources for nuclear fusion.

When белый карлик means a type of star, it's best treated as an inanimate:

Наше Солнце со временем превратится именно в белый карлик. (source) In time our sun will turn specifically into a white dwarf.

(If the word were being treated as an animate in that context, we would expect «белого карлика».)

¹ The words dwarf and midget, of course, are in disfavor nowadays in the US; it's more tactful to say ‘little person.’

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