(ORDO NEWS) — A team of astronomers led by Professor of Physics and Astronomy at Vanderbilt University, USA, Keivan Stassun, has made a rare discovery that will help answer some important questions about the evolution of stars.
Stassun’s team built a new model in 2017 that significantly improved measurements of stellar parameters.
“Being able to combine all the different types of measurements into a single analysis has definitely been the key to understanding the various unusual properties of this star system,” Stassoon said.
This model helps predict the classes of planets orbiting distant stars. It has been used to identify the properties of more than 100 stars discovered by the TESS satellite and 1,000 more stars. But the discovery of this new binary star system came as a complete surprise to the team.
“This type of star is so unusual that, frankly, we would not even look for such a system – no one has ever seen anything like it before!”
Stassun explained what exactly makes this system so rare. Binary star systems are not uncommon in the universe, but an unusual property of this system is its orientation.
When viewed from Earth, the stars outshine each other. This makes it easier for astronomers to calculate important properties of the two stars, such as their masses and luminosities.
Stars can also change size and luminosity in a process known as pulsations, and studying these pulsations gives astronomers the ability to study the mechanisms behind a star’s internal processes, just as earthly seismologists study the Earth’s vibrations to gain information about its internal structure.
There are two rare types of stellar pulsations, each providing different, valuable information about the internal structure of stars. One of the stars in the binary system discovered by Stassoon shows signs of both these types of pulsations.
In addition, this unique star system has a powerful magnetic field, which is rare for hybrid pulsating stars and may help to better understand the early stages of stellar evolution.
Finally, according to Stassun, “this is the first time one of these rare magnetic hybrid pulsating stars has been found in a star cluster and, moreover, in an eclipsing binary.
It seems unlikely that the TESS satellite will ever discover another star system with such an unusual combination of these rare features.”
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