Thursday, 5 July 2012

UKIRT discovers "impossible" binary stars

Artist's impression of the two red dwarfs orbiting each other (credit: J. Pinfield, for the RoPACS network).

Despite facing closure UKIRT continues to produce superb scientific discoveries. In this case a pair of red dwarfs with impossibly tight orbits.

`"To our complete surprise, we found several red dwarf binaries with orbital periods significantly shorter than the 5 hour cut-off found for Sun-like stars, something previously thought to be impossible", said Bas Nefs from Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, lead author of the paper. "It means that we have to rethink how these close-in binaries form and evolve."

Since stars shrink in size early in their lifetime, the fact that these very tight binaries exist means that their orbits must also have shrunk as well since their birth, otherwise the stars would have been in contact early on and have merged. However, it is not at all clear how these orbits could have shrunk by so much.'

For more, see the full RAS press release.

1 comment:

Thomas said...

Hi Tom,

It has been a very long while since I've last seen you, but this is Thomas Kerr, your cousin who now lives in NYC. The blog you've made is interesting and the photography is fantastic. Many years ago, you made me a cassette tape of UK hits, must have played that mix until is wore out. Hope all is well for you in Hawaii. Dad is okay, but suffering some health problems due to age. etc. I'm on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/thomasmkerr

My personal site is at http://www.tom-kerr.com