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Astronomers spot a pair of stars with shortest orbit detected to date - Daily Mail

Astronomers spot a pair of stars with shortest orbit detected to date - Daily Mail

Astronomers spot a pair of stars with shortest orbit detected to date - Daily Mail
Oct 05, 2022 1 min, 32 secs

Astronomers have discovered a pair of stars with such a short orbit they appear to circle each other in just 51 minutes.

The system seems to be one of a rare class of binaries known as a 'cataclysmic variable,' in which a star similar to our sun orbits tightly around a white dwarf — a hot, dense core of a burned-out star. .

A cataclysmic variable occurs when the two stars draw close, over billions of years, causing the white dwarf to start accreting, or eating material away from its partner star. .

The 'cataclysmic' system, which resides about 3,000 light years from Earth in the Hercules constellation, has the shortest orbit detected to date of its type.

Astronomers have discovered a pair of stars with such a short orbit they appear to circle each other in just 51 minutes. The system is known as a cataclysmic variable, which occurs when two stars draw close, over billions of years, causing the white dwarf to start accreting, or eating material away from its partner star (as depicted above).

A cataclysmic variable occurs when the two stars draw close, over billions of years, causing the white dwarf to start accreting, or eating material away from its partner star. .

Unlike other such systems observed in the past, experts caught this cataclysmic variable as the stars eclipsed each other multiple times, allowing the team to precisely measure the properties of each star.

In another 70 million years, the stars will then migrate even closer together, with an ultrashort orbit reaching just 18 minutes, before they begin to expand and drift apart.

They found that the first object was likely a white dwarf, at 1/100th the size of the sun and about half its mass. 

He realised that ZTF J1813+4251 was likely a cataclysmic variable — a discovery that means it is the shortest orbit cataclysmic variable detected to date


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