There’s an alien red giant star orbiting in the center of our galaxy. It’s called S0-6 and has chemical fingerprints from its birthplace far outside the Milky Way. This ancient star is spiraling slowly in toward the supermassive black hole Sagittarius A* (Sgr A*) at the heart of the Milky Way. Eventually, it could get drawn into the black hole and destroyed after traveling for tens of thousands of years to get there.Continue reading “A Star Near the Center of the Milky Way is a Visitor from Beyond”
Scientists love outliers. Outliers are nature’s way of telling us what its boundaries are and where its limits lie. Rather than being upset when an outlier disrupts their understanding, scientists feed on the curiosity that outliers inspire.
It’s true in the case of a new discovery of a massive planet orbiting a small star. That goes against our understanding of how planets form, meaning our planet-formation model needs an update.Continue reading “This Planet is Way Too Big for its Star”
As our newest, most perceptive eye on the ongoing unfolding of the cosmos, the James Webb Space Telescope is revealing many things that were previously unseeable. One of the space telescope’s science goals is to expand our understanding of how stars form. The JWST has the power to see into the cocoons of gas and dust that hide young protostars.
It peered inside one of these cocoons and showed us that what we thought was a single star is actually a binary star.Continue reading “JWST Reveals a Newly-Forming Double Protostar”
Some stars are stuck in bad binary relationships. A massive primary star feeds on its smaller companion, sucking gas from the companion and adding it to its own mass while diminishing its unfortunate partner. These vampire stars are called Be stars, and up until now, astronomers thought they existed in binary relationships.
But new research shows that these stars are only able to feed on their diminutive neighbour because of a third star present in the system.Continue reading “Vampire Stars Get Help from a Third Star to Feed”
Stars are gravitationally fastened to their galaxies and move in concert with their surroundings. But sometimes, something breaks the bond. If a star gets too close to a supermassive black hole, for example, the black hole can expel it out into space as a rogue star.
What would happen to Earth if one of these stellar interlopers got too close?Continue reading “What Would Happen to Earth if a Rogue Star Came Too Close?”
Everyone knows that the James Webb Space Telescope is a ground-breaking infrared space telescope that’s helping us better understand the cosmos. The JWST’s discerning infrared eyes are deepening our understanding of everything from exoplanets to primitive galaxies to the birth of stars.
But it’s not the first ground-breaking infrared space telescope we’ve launched. There was IRAS, then ISO, then the Spitzer Space Telescope. The Spitzer is the JWST’s most recent infrared predecessor, and the JWST is observing one of the same targets that the Spitzer did, taking note of some puzzling changes.Continue reading “JWST Follows Neon Signs Toward New Thinking on Planet Formation”
The Milky Way can’t hold onto all of its stars. Some of them get ejected into intergalactic space and spend their lives on an uncertain journey. A team of astronomers took a closer look at the most massive of these runaway stars to see what they could find out how they get ejected.Continue reading “Astronomers Find Dozens of Massive Stars Fleeing the Milky Way”
A supernova explosion is a cataclysmic explosion that marks the violent end of a massive star’s life. During the event, the star releases immense amounts of energy, often outshining the combined light from all the stars in the host galaxy for a very brief period of time. The explosion produces heavy elements and spreads them out among the stars to contribute to the formation of new stars and planets. The closest supernova in recent years occurred in the Large Magellanic Cloud in 1987 (SN1987A) and now, a team of astronomers have searched through mountains of data to see if they can detect gravitational waves from the remnant.Continue reading “Astronomers are Hoping to Detect Gravitational Waves Coming from Supernova 1987A”
We live in an age of exoplanet discovery. One thing we’ve learned is not to be surprised by the kinds of exoplanets we keep discovering. We’ve discovered planets where it might rain glass or even iron, planets that are the rocky core remnants of gas giants stripped of their atmospheres, and drifting rogue planets untethered to any star.Continue reading “This is a First. An Exoplanet in a Polar Circumbinary Disc Surrounding Two Stars.”
What’s going on with Betelgeuse? In recent years it’s generated a lot of headlines as its luminosity has shifted dramatically several times. The red supergiant brightened by almost 50% earlier this year, triggering speculation that it may go supernova.
But new research suggests there’s something completely different happening with Betelgeuse that has nothing to do with its recent fluctuations. It may have consumed a smaller companion star.Continue reading “Did Betelgeuse Consume a Smaller Star?”