Astronomers Find Rare 5-Star System


download

An illustration of two contacting stars — part of the newly discovered bizarre five-star system.

Scientists have discovered an absolutely bizarre star system about 250 light years away, in the constellation Ursa Major.

The system (officially known as 1SWASP J093010.78+533859.5) features five stars that are all gravitationally bound together. Two orbit each other in what’s called a contact eclipsing binary, meaning they’re so close together that they actually share an atmosphere, with gases flowing between them.

Another two stars also orbit each other, but at a much greater distance — about 1.8 million miles, which is more than twice the diameter of the sun. Another star hangs out near that pair, but doesn’t appear to orbit them.

_84132112_84132111

Systems that include five stars gravitationally bound together are rare, though not unprecedented (astronomers have actually found systems that include as many as six stars). But this is the first one ever found that includes multiple pairs of stars orbiting each other.

The discoverers of the strange system — a team of astronomers from Open University in the UK and elsewhere — presented all these discoveries in a new paper published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. Thanks to George Dvorsky at io9 for bringing it to our attention.

Source: vox.com

Advertisements

Massive Exoplanet Evolved in Extreme 4-Star System


According to a team of astronomers headed by Dr Lewis Roberts from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, an extrasolar gas giant called 30 Arietis Bb (30 Ari Bb) is the second known example of a planet residing in a system with four stars.

30-Ari-System-Four-Stars-and-a-Planet

Artists conception of the 30 Ari star system. In the foreground is the primary star about which the massive exoplanet orbits. The primary’s newly-found binary partner, a red dwarf, can be seen in the upper left and the secondary binary system can be seen to the upper right.

While 30 Ari Bb was known before, it was thought to reside in a system of three stars, not four.

The system, called 30 Ari, is located in the constellation Aries, approximately 136 light-years away.

“Star systems come in myriad forms. There can be single stars, binary stars, triple stars, even quintuple star systems. It’s amazing the way nature puts these things together,” Dr Roberts said.

The planet itself is enormous, with 9.88 times the mass of Jupiter. It orbits its primary star, 30 Ari B, every 335 days. This star has a relatively close partner star, which the planet does not orbit.

The pair, in turn, is locked in a long-distance orbit with another pair of stars about 1,670 AU away.

“It’s highly unlikely that this planet, or any moons that might circle it, could sustain life,” Dr Roberts and his colleagues said.

The first four-star planet, Ph1b, was discovered in the star system Kepler-64 (KIC 4862625) in 2013 by astronomers using data from NASA’s Kepler mission.

The latest discovery, reported in the Astronomical Journal (arXiv.org preprint), suggests that exoplanets in quadruple star systems might be less rare than once thought.

The similarity between Kepler-64 and 30 Ari is that both systems are quadruples consisting of two relatively close pairs that are widely separated.

In fact, recent studies have shown that this type of star systems is itself more common than previously believed.

“About 4% of Sun-like stars are in quadruple systems, which is up from previous estimates because observational techniques are steadily improving,” said team member Dr Andrei Tokovinin of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile.

The scientists also reported on a triple-star planetary system, HD 2638, which hosts a so-called hot-Jupiter.

This giant planet, named HD 2638b, orbits its primary star tightly, completing one lap every 3 days.

Source : sci-news.com

Planet-forming lifeline discovered in a binary star system


GG Tauri-A

Artist’s impression of the double-star system GG Tauri-A.

If the feeding process into the system’s inner disk occurs elsewhere, the findings introduce many new potential locations to find exoplanets.

For the first time, researchers using ALMA have detected a streamer of gas flowing from a massive outer disk toward the inner reaches of a binary star system. This never-before-seen feature may be responsible for sustaining a second, smaller disk of planet-forming material that otherwise would have disappeared long ago. Half of Sun-like stars are born in binary systems, meaning that these findings will have major consequences for the hunt for exoplanets.

A research group led by Anne Dutrey from the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France, used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to observe the distribution of dust and gas in a multiple-star system called GG Tau-A. This object is only a few million years old and lies about 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus the Bull.

Like a wheel in a wheel, GG Tau-A contains a large, outer disk encircling the entire system as well as an inner disk around the main central star. This second inner disk has a mass roughly equivalent to that of Jupiter. Its presence has been an intriguing mystery for astronomers since it is losing material to its central star at a rate that should have depleted it long ago.

While observing these structures with ALMA, the team made the exciting discovery of gas clumps in the region between the two disks. The new observations suggest that material is being transferred from the outer to the inner disk, creating a sustaining lifeline between the two.

“Material flowing through the cavity was predicted by computer simulations but has not been imaged before. Detecting these clumps indicates that material is moving between the disks, allowing one to feed off the other,” said Dutrey. “These observations demonstrate that material from the outer disk can sustain the inner disk for a long time. This has major consequences for potential planet formation.”

Planets are born from the material left over from star birth. This is a slow process, meaning that an enduring disk is a prerequisite for planet formation. If the feeding process into the inner disk now seen with ALMA occurs in other multiple-star systems, the findings introduce a vast number of new potential locations to find exoplanets in the future.

The first phase of exoplanet searches was directed at single-host stars like the Sun. More recently, it has been shown that a large fraction of giant planets orbit binary-star systems. Now, researchers have begun to take an even closer look and investigate the possibility of planets orbiting the individual stars of multiple-star systems. The new discovery supports the possible existence of such planets, giving exoplanet discoverers new happy hunting grounds.

“Almost half the Sun-like stars were born in binary systems,” said Emmanuel Di Folco from the Laboratory of Astrophysics of Bordeaux, France. “This means that we have found a mechanism to sustain planet formation that applies to a significant number of stars in the Milky Way. Our observations are a big step forward in truly understanding planet formation.”ast