We all got lucky due to the fact that there’s a single star powering our own Solar System. Many stars that exist out there in the Universe are part of binary systems, meaning pairs of two stars orbiting one another. If a binary star system existed in our own Solar System, let’s just say that we would complain about the weather even more often than we already do.
Engadget tells us about the discovery of a binary system located approximately 3,000 light-years away from Earth, and that’s 8 billion years old. That makes the binary system’s age to be more than half the one of the Universe itself. That’s also the system where the two stars orbit very close to one another, completing a full orbit in less than an hour.
The white dwarf is consuming the star
It was found that the binary system in question contains a really hungry white dwarf that’s slowly consuming its stellar partner. While the star getting consumed is just about the same size as Jupiter, the biggest planet in our Solar System, the white dwarf’s diameter is a lot smaller, being only about 1.5 times the size of our own planet’s diameter.
Kevin Burdge, the lead author of the study and also an astrophysicist from MIT, explained for Reuters:
It’s an old pair of stars, where one of the two moved on — when stars die of old age they become white dwarfs — but then this remnant began to eat its companion,
Right before the second one could end its stellar life cycle and become a white dwarf in the way that stars normally do — by evolving into a type of star called a red giant — the leftover white dwarf remnant of the first star interrupted the end of the companion’s lifecycle and started slowly consuming it.
The new study was published in Nature.