Superposed image of a partial radio loop on Algol's inner binary. The optical-radio registration is within 0.3 mas.  Credit:  University of Iowa

Giant Magnetic Loop Stretches Between Two Stars

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

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Using a collection of radio telescopes, astronomers have found a giant magnetic loop stretched outward from one of the stars making up the famous binary star system Algol, located in the constellation Perseus. “This is the first time we’ve seen a feature like this in the magnetic field of any star other than the Sun,” said William Peterson, of the University of Iowa.

The double star system, 93 light-years from Earth, includes a star about 3 times more massive than the Sun and a less-massive companion, orbiting it at a distance of 5.8 million miles, only about six percent of the distance between Earth and the Sun. The newly-discovered magnetic loop emerges from the poles of the less-massive star and stretches outward in the direction of the primary star. As the secondary star orbits its companion, one side — the side with the magnetic loop — constantly faces the more-massive star, just as the same side of our Moon always faces the Earth.

The scientists detected the magnetic loop by making extremely detailed images of the system using an intercontinental set of radio telescopes, including the National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array, Very Large Array, and Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, along with the Effelsberg radio telescope in Germany. These radio telescopes were used as a single observing system that offered both great detail, or resolving power, and high sensitivity to detect very faint radio waves. When working together, these telescopes are known as the High Sensitivity Array.

Algol is visible to the naked eye and well-known to amateur astronomers. As seen from Earth, the two stars regularly pass in front of each other, causing a notable change in brightness. The pair completes a cycle of such eclipses in less than three days, making it a popular object for amateur observers. The variability in brightness was discovered by an Italian astronomer in 1667, and the eclipsing-binary explanation was confirmed in 1889.

The newly-discovered magnetic loop helps explain phenomena seen in earlier observations of the Algol system at X-ray and radio wavelengths, the scientists said. In addition, they now believe there may be similar magnetic features in other double-star systems.

Source: EurekAlert

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24 Responses

  1. Aqua says:

    Synchronicity aside.. check out my request to see magnetic anomaly data for the Earth and Sol prior to the Haitian quake..

  2. Olaf says:

    @Aqua, yeah right, and I just saw an UFO pass also prior to the quake. Sorry no proof of EU I am afraid.

  3. simon says:

    ‘just as the same side of our always faces the Earth.’ – forgot to say moon?

  4. Astrofiend says:

    You’d have to think that for closely orbiting binaries, features like this would have been somewhat expected. Great to see confirmation in such detail though…

    PS – I’m back from my wedding and month long honeymoon in Mexico! Anyone miss me? 😛

  5. solrey says:

    Aqua, you might be interested in this paper.

    Investigation of ULF magnetic pulsations, air conductivity changes, and infra red signatures associated with the 30 October Alum Rock M5.4 earthquake

    http://www.nat-hazards-earth-syst-sci.net/9/585/2009/nhess-9-585-2009.html

    The full paper in a 6mb pdf is available at the bottom of the page.

  6. William928 says:

    @Astrofiend: Welcome back and congratulations. I was actually wondering where you had gone. Where in Mexico were you? Why not Fiji, since I believe you live in Australia. Probably because you’ve been before, eh? I need to take a trip to Australia and Fiji.

  7. lalit says:

    We thought earlier that binary stars interact with gravitation only but this binary system is a clear cut is a clear cut indication of both gravitational and magnetic interaction.

    LALIT HP INDIA

  8. Aodhhan says:

    I suppose it isn’t out of the question, some sort of magnetic anomoly could cause an earthquake. Stranger things have been proven. Although, why did it only affect one small fault?

  9. Dark Gnat says:

    I’d bet that there might even be plasma structures resulting from flares, etc. These structures would be regions where particles are suspended in the fields, something like Van Allen belts.

    Lots to learn here!

  10. Anaconda says:

    Study magnetic fields and electric fields in relation to plasma and you’ll have a better idea of what is actually going on:

    Advances in numerical Modeling of Astrophysical and Space Plasmas

    Part II. Astrophysical Force Laws on the Large Scale

    Anthony L. Peratt
    United States Department of Energy, Washington, DC, U.S.A.; Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico, U.S.A.

    http://plasmascience.net/tpu/downloads/AdvancesII.pdf

    Gravity alone doesn’t cut it anymore.

  11. Astrofiend says:

    @William928

    Cheers! Good to be back on the site. At the places we were staying in most of Mexico, using the internet was an exercise in frustration…

    Anyway, I traveled around a decent bit of Mexico considering the length of the trip. We flew into Mexico City, then made our way to Morelia, then Guadalajara, then flew down to Puerto Escondido, then drove to Oaxaca, then flew to Merida over on the Yucatan, then drove to Valladolid, then Tulum, then Isla Mujeres. Then home again! Great trip!

    I haven’t actually been to Fiji yet, but I have a trip lined up to go there later this year. Why Mexico for the honeymoon? My wife and I have always wanted to do a bit of traveling, and Mexico was consistently one of the places we thought we’d like to go – a happy mix of good food, cheap beer, good people, interesting history and culture, great archaeological sites, superb natural wonders, and of course, great beaches. There’s plenty to love about the place!

    Anyway, you should definitely head over to Australia and check out Fiji. It’d make a great trip, but then again, I’m biased…

  12. Astrofiend says:

    Anaconda Says:
    January 14th, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    “Gravity alone doesn’t cut it anymore.”

    Nah – in my experience of physics, we generally need the Strong Force, Electromagnetism, the Weak Force AND Gravity to explain what we see around us.

    But then again, that’s pretty basic stuff, isn’t it?

  13. ND says:

    Anaconda: “Study magnetic fields and electric fields in relation to plasma and you’ll have a better idea of what is actually going on:”

    Good advice for you since you don’t have any idea of the topics you discuss. I mean seriously, nothing you say is taken seriously since you just don’t know much about plasma physics itself.

  14. IVAN3MAN says:

    @ ND,

    Indeed, just like those dogs who bark at fireworks going off!

  15. William928 says:

    I knew we couldn’t usher in much of 2010 without the snake making an appearance and continuing his inane EU ramblings.

    @Astrofiend: Good to hear you had a nice trip in Mexico. The country does have much to offer. I’m planning on Australia in 2011, if all goes according to plan…

  16. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Anaconda Said;
    January 14th, 2010 at 2:15 pm
    “Gravity alone doesn’t cut it anymore.”

    You mean. “Anaconda alone doesn’t cut it anymore”

    Wonder how Anaconda ever keeps his feet one the ground?

    DIPSTICK

  17. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Anthony L. Peratt.

    Jackass #1.

  18. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Anaconda’s desperate attempts in trying to engage individuals here is an illusion, and is certainly not genuine. From his history in expressing irrelevant alternative comments and stating his “personal theories” here, it is clear all he wants to do is spread hearsay instead of discussing the issues presented in the news story at hand.?Towards any here, the individual known Anaconda has been pointed out by the writers here as a TROLL, and have suggested we just ignore him – and perhaps he’ll have the sense to go away for good.?There is no need to “prove him wrong” or even correct in his views, In the end this treatment he has brought on himself.

    IMO, the only way he can redeem himself is through improving his own behaviour, instead of trying to corrupt others or highjack the discussion to his own ends. Until he discuss the issues in a rational and logical manner, he should be ignored or discussed in the third person.Engaging him only encourages his poor behaviour, and unless responders are willing to ignore this individual, we will only perpetuate the same old rhetorical nonsense.

    There is a great saying. “‘For things to change, i must change.” And this importantly applies to this individual.

    I’d suggest he should be encouraged to do so.

    Until then, I recommend we just ignore him – for all our sakes.

    Thanks

  19. Anaconda says:

    Astrofiend wrote: “…in my experience of physics, we generally need the Strong Force, Electromagnetism, the Weak Force AND Gravity to explain what we see around us.

    But then again, that’s pretty basic stuff, isn’t it?”

    Agreed.

    Now, if the other commenters would take your comment to heart.

  20. Hon. Salacious B. Crumb says:

    Anaconda’s desperate attempts in trying to engage individuals is to perpetuate an illusion, whose response is certainly not genuine. From his long history here he just continues to express many irrelevant alternative comments often stating his own “personal theories.” It is very clear all he wants to do is spread hearsay instead of discussing the issues presented in the news story at hand.

    ?Towards any newer readers here who don’t know, this individual known “Anaconda” has been pointed out by the contributors here as a TROLL,

    It is commonly suggested we just ignore him – and perhaps he’ll have the sense to go away for good.? There is absolutely no need to “prove him wrong” or even correct his unfounded views, In the end this drastic treatment he has brought on himself.

    IMO, the only way he can properly redeem himself is through improving his own behaviour, instead of trying to corrupt others or highjack the discussion to his own ends. Until he discuss the issues in a rational and logical manner, he should be ignored or discussed in the third person.Engaging him will only encourage his rather poor behaviour, and unless responders are willing to ignore this individual, we will only continue to perpetuate the same old rhetorical nonsense.

    There is a great saying. “‘For things to change, I must change.” And this importantly applies to this very misguided individual.

    I would suggest he should be encouraged to do so.

    Until then, I recommend we just ignore him – if only for all our sakes.

    Thanks.

  21. ND says:

    Oh and Anaconda, happy anniversary! It’s been a year since we’ve been, erm, engaged in these dialogues of absurdity.

    I *heart* Anaconda.

    (I hope that weirds you out as much as it does me 🙂

  22. DrFlimmer says:

    What was this topic about?

  23. Anaconda says:

    DrFlimmer:

    Exactly.

    Read the post it states that “magnetic loops” were detected between these two stars.

    And if you review the paper I provided, you will see that magnetic fields in space are explained.

    And many other electro-magnetic, plasma phenomenon as well.

    Many of which havealready been observed & measured in situ by satellite probes in our solar system.

    That’s the facts — as much as others don’t want to hear it.

    This is a science website.

Comments are closed.