Astronomers have discovered a strange star with a different chemical composition than any previously discovered,media CNET reported. But using telescopes to observe the star, which is about 150 light-years from Earth, has been worked together by international scientists to let them know why it looks so weird: it devours nearby stars.
The study, published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy, looked at the unusually dying star, known as WD J055134.612 and 413531.09 (WDJ0551 plus 4135). The star was originally identified by the European Space Agency’s Gaia telescope, a telescope used to study the brightness of stars, how they move, and a host of other cosmic phenomena. The Gaia telescope discovered WDJ0551 in 2018, and subsequent work showed it was a particularly large white dwarf, almost twice the size of a similar star found.
The team used the William Herschel telescope in Spain’s Canary Islands to study the main components of white dwarfs. Studying the light emitted by WDJ0551 and 4135 can help identify chemicals that exist. White dwarfs, which are cooling gradually as the end point of star life, are usually made up of carbon and oxygen or a mixture of oxygen and argon, and are surrounded by layers of helium and hydrogen.
After studying the chemicals, the researchers were surprised to find that the carbon content was much higher than they had expected from white dwarfs of this size. Mark Hollands, an astrophysicist at the University of Warwick and lead author of the study, said: “This star stands out, something we’ve never seen before. When we looked at it, we thought it was extremely unreasonable. “
But WDJ0551 and 4135 are not just a dying star, but merged with another white dwarf sometime a billion years ago. This explanation seems to match the unusual composition and size that astronomers have seen in WDJ0551 and 4135. If this theory holds, it would be the first time astronomers have detected white dwarf mergers by studying the chemical composition of stars. However, further research is needed to confirm this theory, and Hollands has proposed a technique called astroanalytics – which studies how stars pulsate and oscillate – that can be independently verified by accurately revealing the core composition of white dwarfs.