Two stars, born in the same star nursery, but at opposite ends, have found each other. And when they were in line, it caused a strange disturbance in the magnetic field around them. According to an article that will be published this week in The Astrophysical Journalthe magnetic field of this sparkling duo creased, distorted and even creaked.
Although scientists are still not entirely sure why this strange phenomenon occurs, the most popular hypothesis is that one of the two stars ” changed the dynamics of the cloud to distort its magnetic fieldexplained Erin Cox, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University and lead author of the paper.
A place in the cosmos conducive to life?
This magnetic anomaly could lead to important discoveries in the future in terms of understanding the habitability of exoplanets, the behavior of sun-like stars, and perhaps even the search for extraterrestrial life.
In fact, decoding the secrets of binary star systems could shed some light on what planets in their vicinity might be. ”
The formation of planets and stars takes place at the same time, and binary stars interact dynamically with each other
adds Erin Cox. ”
In our count of exoplanets, we know that there are planets around these binary stars, but we do not know much about how these planets differ from those that live around single stars.
Earth lives around an isolated star, the Sun, but could there be some kind of Earth with star twins? Alpha Centauri, for example, is the star system closest to us, and it has two main stars orbiting it. Many experts believe that this place in the cosmos could be a good place for life, and some even plan to one day send a space shuttle there equipped with pictorial instruments in the hope of finding such extraterrestrial signs. Having information about the dynamics of binary stars before this ambitious journey could greatly facilitate this quest.
The story of the distorted field
Erin Cox and her scientists stumbled upon this strange double-star sibling after tracking down a well-known star-forming cloud called L483. At first, the sight of the L483 was nothing special. It was a classic star nursery, about 100 times larger than our solar system, which radiated star matter with extreme force and contributed to the birth of tons of stars. His magnetic field seemed pretty normal. ” At first, it agreed with what the theory predicts “, Emphasizes the researcher. ”
But theory can say one thing, and observations can say something else.
After using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy to take a closer look at L483, the team immediately noticed that the magnetic field in this star nursery was not normal at all. Using a powerful radio telescope called the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array in Chile, the researchers made a discovery that was probably even more strange than the magnetic complication. Tucked right behind one of the L483’s baby stars … there was another baby ball. ”
Recent work suggests that it is possible for two stars to form far apart and then for a star to get closer to form a binary.
“, Explains Erin Cox. ” We think that’s what’s happening here. ‘ She adds, however,
we do not know why one star would move towards another, but we believe that the moving star changed the dynamics of the system to distort the magnetic field.
Further observations have revealed important things about the dual star system, such as the fact that they are still very young from our perspective, that they are formed regularly, and that they are roughly the same distance as our Sun from Pluto. ”
With the new instruments coming online to detect and investigate new binary systems, we will be able to test these results with a statistical sample.
thinks Erin Cox.
CNET.com article customized by CNETFrance
Photo: NASA / JPL-Caltech / J.Tobin (University of Michigan)