Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Astronomers show that low-mass stars in binary stars appear to behave like high-mass, evolved stars

26.05.2003


Astronomers Steve Howell of the University of California, Riverside and Thomas E. Harrison and Heather Osborne of New Mexico State University have found from their observations of over a dozen mass-losing stars in ’cataclysmic variables’ that most of the secondary stars do not appear to be normal main sequence stars in terms of their apparent abundances. To various degrees, each star seems to have low to no carbon and other odd mixtures of elements such as sodium and calcium, the astronomers announced today at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Nashville, Tenn.


An artist’s conception of a cataclysmic variable. Cataclysmic variables are binary stars consisting of a white dwarf primary and a lower mass secondary star.
(Artist: Mark Garlick, http://www.space-art.co.uk/, mark@space-art.co.uk)



(A main sequence star is a star that is in its normal state, such as the sun. These stars have well-defined relations between luminosity, temperature, size and mass.)

"Cataclysmic variables are binary stars consisting of a white dwarf primary and a lower mass secondary star," explained Howell. A binary star system consists of two stars orbiting about their common center of mass and held together by their mutual gravitational attraction. A white dwarf is a star that has exhausted all its nuclear fuel and has collapsed to a very small size, about the size of the Earth.


Howell further explained that the high gravity of the white dwarf pulls matter off the lower-mass, but larger secondary star. This material often forms a disk around the white dwarf. The orbital periods of these binaries are short, typically ranging from approximately 12 hours to 80 minutes. "Cataclysmic variables are very small systems," he said. "The entire binary would completely fit inside our sun."

For their research, the three astronomers used telescopes to obtain spectral observations of mass-losing stars in cataclysmic variables. "Our findings suggest that the normal idea that ’main sequence’ rules apply to the mass-losing stars appears not to be the case," said Howell. "Furthermore, the observed abundance patterns are consistent with stellar material formed by a process called CNO or carbon-nitrogen-oxygen burning, which is only thought to occur in stars with masses greater than those of the mass-losing stars.

The research, funded by the National Science Foundation, was performed in the past two years using telescopes located at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, near Tucson, Ariz., and on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, using the NASA infrared telescope (IRTF) and the United Kingdom infrared telescope (UKIRT).

Additional contacts:
Steve Howell, steve.howell@ucr.edu
Thomas Harrison, tharriso@nmsu.edu

Iqbal Pittalwala | UC Riverside
Further information:
http://www.newsroom.ucr.edu/cgi-bin/display.cgi?id=595
http://www.igpp.ucr.edu/
http://www.cnas.ucr.edu/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht The moon is front and center during a total solar eclipse
24.07.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht Superluminous supernova marks the death of a star at cosmic high noon
24.07.2017 | Royal Astronomical Society

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

Im Focus: On the way to a biological alternative

A bacterial enzyme enables reactions that open up alternatives to key industrial chemical processes

The research team of Prof. Dr. Oliver Einsle at the University of Freiburg's Institute of Biochemistry has long been exploring the functioning of nitrogenase....

Im Focus: The 1 trillion tonne iceberg

Larsen C Ice Shelf rift finally breaks through

A one trillion tonne iceberg - one of the biggest ever recorded -- has calved away from the Larsen C Ice Shelf in Antarctica, after a rift in the ice,...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Ultrathin device harvests electricity from human motion

24.07.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Scientists announce the quest for high-index materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

ADIR Project: Lasers Recover Valuable Materials

24.07.2017 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>