Astronomers Spot a ‘Vampire’ Star

Astronomers Spot a ‘Vampire’ Star
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Who said that vampires only exist in movies or cartoons? They could even be a lot more imposing, big, and scary than any of us would have ever dared to imagine. Astronomers just got some new data about a star system discovered two years ago, and the outcome is shocking.

ArsTechnica.com brings the news about the star system known as HR 6819. At first, astronomers weren’t sure if there was also a black hole around or not. After new observations, the scientists discovered that they’re dealing with a binary system where a ‘vampire’ star sucks the atmosphere out from its stellar partner. There’s also no black hole around.

Astronomer Thomas Rivinius explained:

The scenarios we were looking for were rather clear, very different and easily distinguishable with the right instrument,

We agreed that there were two sources of light in the system, so the question was whether they orbit each other closely, as in the stripped-star scenario, or are far apart from each other, as in the black hole scenario.

Julia Bodensteiner, a co-author of the study and an ESO fellow in Germany, stated:

Our best interpretation so far is that we caught this binary system in a moment shortly after one of the stars had sucked the atmosphere off its companion star,

This is a common phenomenon in close binary systems, sometimes referred to as ‘stellar vampirism’ in the press. While the donor star was stripped of some of its material, the recipient star began to spin more rapidly.

In our Milky Way galaxy alone, there are between 100 billion and 200 billion stars. Therefore, we can expect similar or even more peculiar findings from astronomers pretty much anytime. Keeping an eye on the news is a ‘must’ if you’re interested in astronomy!

The new findings were published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics


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Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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