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"One-of-a-Kind Mystery Star" --Varies in Brightness By Minutes and Hours (Today's 'Galaxy' Stream)

13 Sep 2017, 14:46 UTC
"One-of-a-Kind Mystery Star" --Varies in Brightness By Minutes and Hours (Today's 'Galaxy' Stream)
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Astronomers studying the unique binary star system AR Scorpii have discovered the brightness of the system has changed over the past decade. The new evidence lends support to an existing theory of how the unusual star emits energy. AR Scorpii consists of a rapidly spinning, magnetized white dwarf star that mysteriously interacts with its companion star. A white dwarf is a very dense remnant of a star like the sun. When a solar-like star runs out of energy, gravity compresses its core to about the size of the Earth but with a mass 300,000 times higher. A teaspoon-sized piece of a white dwarf would weigh about 15 tons. The compression of the star can also amplify its magnetic field strength and its spin rate.
The system was recently found to more than double in brightness on timescales of minutes and hours, but research recently published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters found variability on a timescale of decades.


Researchers at the University of Notre Dame analyzed data on the unique system from the Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission taken in 2014 before the star was known to be unusual. The data was then compared with ...

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