A one-of-a-kind star found to change over decades

ScienceDaily | 9/12/2017 | Staff
Click For Photo: https://www.sciencedaily.com/images/2017/09/170912154844_1_540x360.jpg

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame analyzed data on the unique system from the Kepler Space Telescope's K2 mission taken in 2014 before the star was known to be unusual. The data was then compared with archival sky survey images going back to 2004 to look for long-term changes in the light curve of AR Scorpii. The binary's light curve is unique, in that it exhibits a spike in emission every two minutes as well as a major brightness variation over the approximately 3.5-hour orbital period of the two stars.

"One model of this system predicts long-term variations in the way the two stars interact. It was not known what the time scale of these changes might be -- whether 20 to 200 years. By looking at the K2 and archival data, we were able to show that in addition to hourly changes in the system, there are variations occurring over decades," said Peter Garnavich, professor and department chair of astrophysics and cosmology physics at Notre Dame.

Dwarf - Remnant - Star - Sun - Star

A white dwarf is a very dense remnant of a star like the sun. When a solar-like star runs out of energy, gravity compresses its core to about the size of the Earth but with a mass 300,000 times higher. A teaspoon-sized piece of a...
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