A groundbreaking new discovery by University of Leeds scientists could transform the way astronomers understand some of the biggest and most common stars in the Universe.
University Scientists Discover That Stars Might Be “Triples” Instead Of “Doubles”
Research by PhD student Jonathan Dodd and Professor René Oudmaijer, from the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, points to intriguing new evidence that massive Be stars — until now mainly thought to exist in double stars — could in fact be “triples.”
The Remarkable Discovery
This remarkable discovery has sent shockwaves through the scientific community. The revelation could revolutionize our understanding of these massive stars, which are considered an important “test bed” for developing theories on how stars evolve more generally.
For about a century and a half, astronomers have been scratching their heads over these peculiar Be stars. First identified by renowned Italian astronomer Angelo Secchi in 1866, these enigmatic celestial bodies have perplexed researchers with their characteristic gas discs that resemble Saturn’s rings.
Misunderstood Celestial Objects
Consensus among astronomers so far has said that these gas discs are formed due to rapid rotation caused by interactions with another star in a binary system. However, it turns out there might be more to this story than meets the eye.
Triples vs Doubles: A Star Wars Analogy
In what can only be described as mind-blowing news (for those who find astronomy mind-blowing), Mr Dodd compared this astronomical revelation to something straight out of Star Wars. Yes, you read that right! He likened it to planets with two suns – just like Tatooine!
Evidence from Gaia Satellite Data
The scientists analyzed data from the European Space Agency’s Gaia satellite and found compelling evidence indicating that these massive Be stars actually exist within triple systems rather than double ones.
The Wobble Effect
Mr Dodd explained how they observed the movement of stars across the night sky over different periods. If a star moves in a straight line, it indicates only one star is present. But if there is more than one star involved, they will observe slight wobbles or even spirals.
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