Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Star four times bigger than the Sun sucks material from companion star

Astronomers have gotten a good look at what happens when a “vampire” star sucks the outer layers of material from a companion star, stripping its “bitten” victim down to a mere stellar core.

Data obtained using Chile-based European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes clarified the nature of a star system called HR 6819, researchers said.

They found that the system’s two companion stars were not accompanied by a black hole as was previously proposed.

The two stars instead exist as a binary system, gravitationally married in an orbit lasting about 40 days.

While binary systems are common, what makes this one unique is that it has provided a rare glimpse of the immediate aftermath of what is dubbed “stellar vampirism”.

She is the lead author of the research published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

“This can be done if the stars travel close enough to each other and the gravitational pull of one star pulls material off the other star,” Dr Frost said.

Stars slowly grow as they age.

Those in binary systems with two orbiting closely, as in this case, can grow in size beyond a threshold at which their gravity can protect them from the tug of the companion.

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