When astronomers say bluntly that they are puzzled, it is always a good sign.
One such intricate object, discovered by a project called VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea survey, or VVV, appears to be the second of its kind known to scientists – and the species looks particularly impressive, according to new research. This conclusion was reached by scientists who discovered a bright star it almost disappeared before their eyes.
“Sometimes we find variable stars that do not fit into any of the established categories, which we call“ what is this? ”Objects. “Or WIT,” says co-author Philip Lucas, an astronomer at the University of Hertfordshire. UNITED KINGDOM, said in a statement… “We really don’t know how these flashing giants came to be. It’s great to see such discoveries with VVV after so many years of planning and data collection. ”
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The team of astronomers focused on observing the object, dubbed VVV-WIT-08, for the study in which it was discovered. The strange sight is over 25,000 light-years from Earth towards the center of the Earth. Milky Way, and researchers were able to see them not only with the VVV project, but also with the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE).
After digging through the measurements, scientists now suspect that the object is a single massive star, 100 times larger than the sunwhich is intermittently blocked by a smaller companion object surrounded by an opaque disk.
What exactly is this smaller object, scientists do not yet know.
“It’s amazing that we’ve just observed a dark, large and elongated object passing between us and a distant star, and we can only speculate about its origin,” said co-author Sergei Koposov, an astronomer at the University of Edinburgh in the UK. in the statement.
The VVV-WIT-08 sightings mark the second time scientists have observed this particular specimen; the brightness of a massive star known as Epsilon Charioteer halves every 27 years as a cloud of dust passes between observers and the star. Another example dims every 69 years, and researchers who studied VVV-WIT-08 have so far discovered two more of these strange objects, which they called “blinking giant” stars.
Thus, the total number of such objects observed has reached five, although scientists expect others to be detected.
“Of course, remains to be found, but the challenge now is to figure out what these hidden satellites are and how they ended up surrounded by disks, despite the fact that they were orbiting so far from the giant star,” says lead author Lee Smith , astronomer. at the University of Cambridge in the UK, the statement said. “By doing so, we can learn something new about how such systems evolve.”
The study is described in paper published Friday (June 11) in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
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