Mysterious dust object orbits a nearby star

(ORDO NEWS) — In a new study, a group of astronomers led by Karen Collins of the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Center, USA, discovered a mysterious variable source called TIC 400799224, using a special algorithm to search the archive of NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) satellite.

This method has previously been used, for example, to detect disintegrating planets and bodies that emit streams of dust.

The unusual source TIC 400799224 was spotted by accident, as it showed a sharp drop in brightness, by almost 25 percent in just four hours, after which there were several sharp changes in brightness, each of which could be interpreted as an eclipse.

Additional observations of this object using ground-based observatories showed that it is a binary system in which one of the stars pulsates with a period of 19.77 days, probably because a body moves around it in orbit, which periodically emits clouds of dust that eclipse the star.

The nature of the object emitting dust clouds remains unclear, and although the frequency of eclipses remains constant, their depth, shape and duration change randomly each time, indicating a different cloud of dust, the scientists explained.


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