Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today in Astrophysical Journal Letters that they have discovered a faraway binary star system that could be the progenitor of a rare type of supernova.
The two yellow stars, which orbit each other and even share a large amount of stellar material, resemble a peanut. The Ohio State University astronomers and their colleagues believe the two stars in the system, 13 million light years away and tucked inside a small galaxy known as Holmberg IX, appear to be nearly identical, each 15 to 20 times the mass of our Sun.
This work was funded through an NSF continuing grant to support a systematic study of the most massive stars in the local universe. The study is expected to yield masses and radii for dozens of massive stars discovered in a variety of environments. The data produced can be used to test models of massive star atmospheres, winds, and how they evolve both as single stars and in binaries.
"To have discovered a pair of massive interacting stars in this configuration is truly exceptional--sort of like rare squared," said NSF Program Manager Michael Briley. "There is a lot these stars can tell us about how they work and how they influence their environment. But the really exciting part is they may also hold the key to finally understanding why some massive yellow stars explode."
Lead author Jose Prieto, an Ohio State graduate student who analyzed the new system as part of his doctoral dissertation, searched the historical record to see whether his group had found the first such binary. In a surprising twist, his search uncovered another similar system less than 230,000 light years away in the Small Magellanic Cloud, a small galaxy that orbits the Milky Way. The second binary star system was discovered in the 1980s but misidentified at the time. Prieto reassessed the data and realized the system was another yellow super-giant eclipsing binary. Prieto and his colleague suspect the yellow binary systems could be the progenitors of rare supernova linked to yellow supergiants.
Most stars end their life in a supernova at the cooler red end of the temperature scale and a few end in the hotter blue end, Pietro said. Astronomers didn't believe stars would end during the short transitional phase in between--until now.
"When two stars orbit each other very closely, they share material, and the evolution of one affects the other," Prieto said. "It's possible two supergiants in such a system would evolve more slowly and spend more time in the yellow phase--long enough that one of them could explode as a yellow supergiant."
Diane Banegas | EurekAlert!
New type of low-energy nanolaser that shines in all directions
18.12.2018 | Eindhoven University of Technology
NASA research reveals Saturn is losing its rings at 'worst-case-scenario' rate
18.12.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
Researchers from the University of Basel have reported a new method that allows the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network to be controlled. It is based on the spontaneous self-organization of molecules into extensive networks with pores about one nanometer in size. In the journal ‘small’, the physicists reported on their investigations, which could be of particular importance for the development of new storage devices.
Around the world, researchers are attempting to shrink data storage devices to achieve as large a storage capacity in as small a space as possible. In almost...
The more objects we make "smart," from watches to entire buildings, the greater the need for these devices to store and retrieve massive amounts of data quickly without consuming too much power.
Millions of new memory cells could be part of a computer chip and provide that speed and energy savings, thanks to the discovery of a previously unobserved...
What if, instead of turning up the thermostat, you could warm up with high-tech, flexible patches sewn into your clothes - while significantly reducing your...
A widely used diabetes medication combined with an antihypertensive drug specifically inhibits tumor growth – this was discovered by researchers from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum two years ago. In a follow-up study, recently published in “Cell Reports”, the scientists report that this drug cocktail induces cancer cell death by switching off their energy supply.
The widely used anti-diabetes drug metformin not only reduces blood sugar but also has an anti-cancer effect. However, the metformin dose commonly used in the...
A research team from the University of Zurich has developed a new drone that can retract its propeller arms in flight and make itself small to fit through narrow gaps and holes. This is particularly useful when searching for victims of natural disasters.
Inspecting a damaged building after an earthquake or during a fire is exactly the kind of job that human rescuers would like drones to do for them. A flying...
12.12.2018 | Event News
10.12.2018 | Event News
06.12.2018 | Event News
18.12.2018 | Materials Sciences
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
18.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy