28Jul2019

Two Stars Orbiting Each Other At Record-Breaking Speed

There’s been a lot of discussion surrounding binary stars where most of the people wonder why the binary stars orbit around each other so fast. They aren’t slow coaches in their respective movements as we will see.

Astronomers Discover Two Stars Orbiting Each Other At Record-Breaking Speed

An international team of astronomers just discovered a binary system of dwarf stars, 7,800 light years from Earth, orbiting around each other at speed that’s faster than ever. Another binary system of stars that orbited each other at a super fast speed of about 310 miles per second was HM Cancri, which was discovered back in 2010. It took somewhere around five minutes for HM Cancri to complete its orbit in less than five minutes. And these two new dwarf stars can orbit each other in about 7 minutes or 6.91 minutes.

These observations were made at Palomar Observatory and Kitt Peak National Observatory with the Kitt Peak 84-inch Electron Multiplying Demonstrator (KPED), at the Kitt Peak 2.1-meter telescope. KPED has been especially designed to measure with speed and sensitivity the changing brightness of celestial sources. It also helped detect the fastest ever binary system of white dwarf stars called ZTF J1539+5027, J1539 for short. In fact, these stars are known to orbit so close together that they could fit entire system within the diameter of the planet Saturn.

“As the dimmer star passes in front of the brighter one, it blocks most of the light, resulting in the seven-minute blinking pattern we see in the ZTF data,” mentioned Caltech graduate student Kevin Burdge, lead author of the paper which is published in the journal Nature. J1539 is only one of the few known sources whose orbits are so close that its gravitational waves would be detected by the future European space mission LISA (Laser Interferometer Space Antenna), expected to launch in 2034.

“Only months after coming online, ZTF astronomers have detected white dwarfs orbiting each other at a record pace. It’s a discovery that will greatly improve our understanding of these systems, and it’s a taste of surprises yet to come,” said NSF Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, Anne Kinney. Cr. Mashable

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