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Caught in the Act: MeerKAT Telescope Spies Stellar Flare

26 Nov 2019, 15:33 UTC
Caught in the Act: MeerKAT Telescope Spies Stellar Flare
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Scientists using the MeerKAT radio telescope have discovered a unique and previously-unseen flare of radio emission from a binary star in our galaxy. The MeerKAT radio telescope in the Northern Cape of South Africa has discovered an object which rapidly brightened by more than a factor of three over a period of three weeks. This is the first new transient source discovered with MeerKAT and scientists hope it is the tip of an iceberg of transient events to be discovered with the telescope.Astronomers call an astronomical event "transient" when it appears or disappears, or becomes fainter or brighter over seconds, days, or even years. These events are important as they provide a glimpse of how stars live, evolve, and die. Using an assortment of telescopes around the globe, the researchers determined that the source of the flare is a binary system, where two objects orbit each other approximately every 22 days.While the cause of the flaring and the exact nature of the stars that make up the system is still uncertain, it is thought to be associated with an active corona - the hot outermost part of the brighter star.The source of the observed activity is located in the Southern ...

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