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An Unequal Pair of ‘Identical Twin’ Stars

20 Oct 2013, 10:00 UTC
An Unequal Pair of ‘Identical Twin’ Stars
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Figure 1: Artist’s impression of an eclipsing binary system.In 2008, a team of astronomers announced the discovery of a pair of newborn stellar twins residing in the Orion Nebula. The stellar twins exist as a binary star system, identified as Par 1802. Both stars formed at around the same time from the same natal material, and each star in the binary has a mass of 0.41 ± 0.01 solar masses, identical to within 2 percent. As such, they are expected to possess identical physical attributes and are virtually ‘identical twins’. However, in the study, the team reported that these twin stars have surface temperatures differing b ~300 K and luminosities differing by ~50 percent. Furthermore, the sizes of both stars differ by 5 to 10 percent.Physical parameters of Par 1802:Primary ComponentSecondary ComponentMass (Sun = 1)0.414 ± 0.0150.406 ± 0.014Surface Temperature (K)3,945 ± 153,655 ± 15Luminosity (Sun = 1)0.72 ± 0.110.46 ± 0.12Radius (Sun = 1)1.82 ± 0.051.69 ± 0.05Figure 2: Light curve of Par 1802 - an eclipsing binary system with a period of 4.67 days. The ratio of eclipse depths provides a direct measure of the ratio of surface temperatures, with the deeper eclipse corresponding to the eclipse of ...

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