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A Companion for Regulus

30 Nov 2020, 17:00 UTC
A Companion for Regulus
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The nearby star Regulus — the heart of the constellation Leo — has long been known to be in a binary. But though the bright, main-sequence star is easy to spot, we’ve yet to detect Regulus’s companion! A recent study now presents what may be a first look at this mysterious object.
A Future Entwined
If you’re a star in a close binary system, your fate is not your own. Instead, your future is heavily dependent on how you interact with your companion — especially as you both age.
Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo; it’s visible as the star in the lower right corner of the constellation. The bright object below Leo in this photo is Jupiter. [Till Credner]Such is likely the case for Regulus, a star just ~80 light-years away. Once thought to be a single star, this bright, blue-white, rapidly rotating main-sequence star has since been shown to wobble — it dances in a 40-day orbit with a too-dim-to-spot partner.
May I Have This Dance?
The dance of an interacting, evolving binary is complex. As the more massive star in the pair ages into the red giant stage, it grows larger in size. Eventually, ...

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