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Stellar News Feed Archive

The circumstellar dust of “Born-Again” stars Monday, July 27, 2015 - 15:02

We describe the evolution of the carbon dust shells around Very Late Thermal Pulse (VLTP) objects as seen at infrared wavelengths. This includes a 20-year overview of the evolution of the dust around Sakurai’s object (to which Olivier made a seminal contribution) and FG Sge. VLTPs may occur during the endpoint of as many as 25% of solar mass stars, and may therefore provide a glimpse of the possible fate of the Sun.

Authors: A. Evans, R. D. Gehrz, L. A. Helton and C. E. Woodward

Read the paper from astro-ph

 

Brown Dwarfs, Stars Share Formation Process, New Study Indicates Thursday, July 23, 2015 - 13:53


Astronomers using the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) have discovered jets of material ejected by still-forming young brown dwarfs. The discovery is the first direct evidence that brown dwarfs, intermediate in mass between stars and planets, are produced by a scaled-down version of the same process that produces stars.


The astronomers studied a sample of still-forming brown dwarfs in a star-forming region some 450 light-years from Earth in the constellation Taurus, and found that four of them have the type of jets emitted by more-massive stars during their formation.

"This is the first time that such jets have been found coming from brown dwarfs at such an early stage of their formation, and shows that they form in a way similar to that of stars," said Oscar Morata, of the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Academia Sinica in Taiwan. 

Read the full story at NRAO News

 

Gaia satellite and amateur astronomers spot one in a billion star Saturday, July 18, 2015 - 15:24

Gaia14aae contains large amounts of helium, but no hydrogen, which is highly unusual as hydrogen is the most common element in the Universe. The lack of hydrogen allowed them to classify Gaia14aae as a very rare type of system known as an AM Canum Venaticorum (AM CVn), a type of Cataclysmic Variable system where both stars have lost all of their hydrogen. This is the first known AM CVn system where one star totally eclipses the other.

“It’s really cool that the first time that one of these systems was discovered to have one star completely eclipsing the other, that it was amateur astronomers who made the discovery and alerted us,” said Campbell. “This really highlights the vital contribution that amateur astronomers make to cutting edge scientific research.”

Read the full news article

Read the research paper from the MNRAS

 

ASASSN-15lh: The Most Luminous Supernova Ever Discovered Thursday, July 16, 2015 - 10:49

We report the discovery and early evolution of ASASSN-15lh, the most luminous supernova ever found. At redshift z=0.2326, ASASSN-15lh reached an absolute magnitude of M_{u,AB} ~ -23.5 and bolometric luminosity L_bol ~ 2.2x10^45 ergs/s, which is >~ 2 times more luminous than any previously known supernova. Its spectra match the hydrogen-poor sub-class of super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe-I), whose energy sources and progenitors are poorly understood. In contrast to known SLSNe-I, most of which reside in star-forming, dwarf galaxies, its host appears to be a luminous galaxy (M_V ~ -22; M_K ~ -25.1) with little star formation. In the two months since its first detection, ASASSN-15lh has radiated ~7.5x10^51 ergs, challenging the popular magnetar model for the engine of SLSNe-I.

Authors: Subo Dong (KIAA-PKU), B. J. Shappee (Carnegie), J. L. Prieto (UDP), S. W. Jha (Rutgers), K. Z. Stanek (Ohio State), T. W.-S. Holoien (Ohio State), C. S. Kochanek (Ohio State), T. A. Thompson (Ohio State), N. Morrell (LCO), I. B. Thompson (Carnegie), U. Basu, J. F. Beacom, D. Bersier, J. Brimacombe, J. S. Brown, Ping Chen, E. Conseil, A. B. Danilet, E. Falco, D. Grupe, S. Kiyota, G. Masi, B. Nicholls, F. Olivares, G. Pignata, G. Pojmanski, G. V. Simonian, D. M. Szczygiel, P. R. Wozniak

Download the pre-print from astro-ph

 

Colliding red giant prime suspect for luminous red nova outburst Thursday, July 9, 2015 - 08:14

Observations of a rare astronomical phenomenon, called a luminous red nova, suggest that this bright outburst was caused by a red giant colliding with another star. Astronomers used the Liverpool Telescopeto track the outburst over several months and hunted through the Hubble Space Telescope archive to identify possible progenitors. Dr Steven Williams will present the results at the National Astronomy Meeting 2015 in Llandudno on Thursday 9th July.

“We found that our observations of M31LRN 2015 showed strong similarities to other objects classified as luminous red novae. If a single mechanism is responsible for all these rare events, the evidence suggests merging stars as the cause,” said Williams. He added, “Further observations of this and other systems are certainly needed. Astronomers have some way to go before these enigmatic objects are fully understood.”

Read the full press release at RAS News

 

Biggest Explosions in the Universe Powered by Strongest Magnets Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 14:16

Observations from ESO’s La Silla and Paranal Observatories in Chile have for the first time demonstrated a link between a very long-lasting burst of gamma rays and an unusually bright supernova explosion. The results show that the supernova was not driven by radioactive decay, as expected, but was instead powered by the decaying super-strong magnetic fields around an exotic object called a magnetar.

GRBs usually only last a few seconds, but in very rare cases the gamma rays continue for hours. One such ultra-long duration GRB was picked up by the Swift satellite on 9 December 2011 and named GRB 111209A. It was both one of the longest and brightest GRBs ever observed.

As the afterglow from this burst faded it was studied using both the GROND instrument on the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla and also with the X-shooter instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal. The clear signature of a supernova, later named SN 2011kl, was found. This is the first time that a supernova has been found to be associated with an ultra-long GRB.

Read the press release at ESO News

Download the research paper to appear in Nature

 

A five star, doubly-eclipsing star system Wednesday, July 8, 2015 - 09:33

Astronomers at the Open University have discovered the first quintuple star system containing two eclipsing binary stars. Details of the five star system, the first of its kind to be found, will be presented by Marcus Lohr of the Open University in a talk on Wednesday 8 July at the National Astronomy Meeting at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales.

The light curve of the new quintuple system, designated as 1SWASP J093010.78+533859.5, initially revealed the presence of a contact eclipsing binary - a system in which the two stars are orbiting so close together that they share an outer atmosphere. Contact binaries are quite common, but this particular system is notable because its orbital period - the time the two stars take to complete one orbital cycle - is so short, just under six hours.

Then it was spotted that the light curve contained some additional unexpected eclipses, and the data were reanalysed to reveal a second eclipsing binary at the same location on the sky.  The new binary is detached - its component stars are well-separated by a distance of about 3 million km, or about twice the size of the Sun - and it has a longer orbital period of one and a third days.

Read the full press release

 

Transition Disks Tuesday, July 7, 2015 - 12:51

A star is typically born with a disk of gas and dust encircling it, from which planets develop as dust grains in the disk collide, stick together and grow. These disks, warmed by the star to a range of temperatures above the cold, ambient interstellar material, can be detected at infrared or millimeter wavelengths, and their infrared color used to characterize their properties. Stars older than about five million years lack evidence for these disks, however, suggesting that by this age most of the disk material has either been converted into planets or smaller bodies, accreted onto the star, or dispersed from the system. Transition disks bridge this period in disk evolution: They have not yet been disbursed, but although they are present they emit only slightly in the infrared. Their emission shows characteristically cooler temperatures, and signs that the innermost (hottest) regions have already disappeared and left a gap (or cavity) in the ring.

CfA astronomer Sean Andrews and his colleagues have been studying transition disks in nearby star-forming regions located in constellations of Taurus and Ophiuchus. The astronomers note that the gaps in transition disks they see might have been caused by one or more of three processes: grain growth and planet formation that depleted the material, a giant planet in the vicinity that swept the region clean, or a stellar wind that blew away or evaporated the dust.

See more at: CfA News

Read the pre-print on astro-ph

 

MONSTER BLACK HOLE WAKES UP AFTER 26 YEARS Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 14:25

On 15 June 2015, a long-time acquaintance of X-ray and gamma ray astronomers made its comeback to the cosmic stage: V404 Cygni, a system comprising a black hole and a star orbiting one another. It is located in our Milky Way galaxy, almost 8000 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus, the Swan.

In this type of binary system, material flows from the star towards the black hole and gathers in a disc, where it is heated up, shining brightly at optical, ultraviolet and X-ray wavelengths before spiralling into the black hole.

The V404 Cygni black hole system has not been this bright and active since 1989, when it was observed with the Japanese X-ray satellite Ginga and high-energy instruments on board the Mir space station. 

Read the full story at the ESA Intregal site

 

Intense radio emission from tiny binary star Monday, June 22, 2015 - 09:33

The small binary star known as AB Doradus B is located in the AB Doradus star system, consisting of two pairs of stars. Stars normally emit light that can be seen with the naked eye or through telescopes, but some also emit radio waves, similar to those from televisions, mobile phones or microwave ovens.

These emissions have made it possible to calculate the mass of the star, which is usually complex, but "when the star is accompanied by another, its orbital motion gives us an accurate way to determine it, as Kepler's laws establish," says the director of the Astronomical Observatory, José Carlos Guirado, co-author of the study. "The mass of these stars cannot be reproduced by the current models of stellar evolution, so we require a major overhaul of these theories," adds the scientist in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

Read the full story at Science Daily

 

Voracious vortexes in cataclysmic variables. Multi-epoch tomographic study of HT Cassiopeia Wednesday, June 17, 2015 - 10:20

We present multi-epoch, time-resolved optical spectroscopic observations of the dwarf nova HT Cas, obtained during 1986, 1992, 1995 and 2005 with the aim to study the properties of emission structures in the system. We determined that the accretion disc radius, measured from the double-peaked emission line profiles, is persistently large and lies within the range of 0.45-0.52a, where a is the binary separation. This is close to the tidal truncation radius r_max=0.52a. This result contradicts with previous radius measurements. An extensive set of Doppler maps has revealed a very complex emission structure of the accretion disc. Apart from a ring of disc emission, the tomograms display at least three areas of enhanced emission: the hot spot from the area of interaction between the gas stream and the disc, which is superposed on the elongated spiral structure, and the extended bright region on the leading side of the disc, opposite to the location of the hot spot. The position of the hot spot in all the emission lines is consistent with the trajectory of the gas stream. However, the peaks of emission are located in the range of distances 0.22-0.30a, which are much closer to the white dwarf than the disc edge. This suggests that the outer disc regions have a very low density, allowing the gas stream to flow almost freely before it starts to be seen as an emission source. We have found that the extended emission region in the leading side of the disc is always observed at the very edge of the large disc. Observations of other cataclysmic variables, which show a similar emission structure in their tomograms, confirm this conclusion. We propose that the leading side bright region is caused by irradiation of tidally thickened sectors of the outer disc by the white dwarf and/or hot inner disc regions.

Authors: V. V. Neustroev, S. V. Zharikov, N. V. Borisov

Read the paper on astro-ph

 

A Celestial Butterfly Emerges from its Dusty Cocoon Wednesday, June 10, 2015 - 10:33

Astronomers found the dust disc to begin about 900 million kilometres from the star — slightly farther than the distance from the Sun to Jupiter — and discovered that it flares outwards, creating a symmetrical, funnel-like shape surrounding the star. The team also observed a second source of light about 300 million kilometres — twice the distance from Earth to the Sun — from L2 Puppis. This very close companion star is likely to be another red giant of slightly lower mass, but less evolved.

The combination of a large amount of dust surrounding a slowly dying star, along with the presence of a companion star, mean that this is exactly the type of system expected to create a bipolar planetary nebula. These three elements seem to be necessary, but a considerable amount of good fortune is also still required if they are to lead to the subsequent emergence of a celestial butterfly from this dusty chrysalis.

Read the press release

 

A new sdO+dM binary with extreme eclipses and reflection effect Wednesday, June 3, 2015 - 09:48

We report the discovery of a new totally-eclipsing binary (RA=06:40:29.11; Dec=+38:56:52.2; J=2000.0; Rmax=17.2 mag) with an sdO primary and a strongly irradiated red dwarf companion. It has an orbital period of Porb=0.187284394(11) d and an optical eclipse depth in excess of 5 magnitudes.

Astronomers Observe Rare Stellar Eclipse Tuesday, June 2, 2015 - 15:48

A team of professional and amateur astronomers has succeeded in observing a distant companion as it eclipsed the bright variable star b Persei (not to be confused with Beta Persei) in a rare event.

The b Persei system was already known as a binary, with two stars that orbit each other every 1.5 days. But a suspected third companion popped up during a survey of radio-emitting stars. The Navy Precision Optical Interferometer (NPOI) began to trace out the companion’s orbit, and what began as routine observations turned into a rare eclipse prediction: the distant companion was set to cross in front of the other two stars in February 2013, and then again in January 2015.

- See more at: http://www.skyandtelescope.com/astronomy-news/astronomers-observe-rare-stellar-eclipse-0602201503/

 

Searching for nova shells around cataclysmic variables Sunday, May 31, 2015 - 11:33

We present the results of a search for nova shells around 101 cataclysmic variables (CVs), using Halpha images taken with the 4.2-m William Herschel Telescope (WHT) and the 2.5-m Isaac Newton Telescope Photometric Halpha Survey of the Northern Galactic Plane (IPHAS). Both telescopes are located on La Palma. We concentrated our WHT search on nova-like variables, whilst our IPHAS search covered all CVs in the IPHAS footprint. We found one shell out of the 24 nova-like variables we examined. The newly discovered shell is around V1315 Aql and has a radius of approx.2.5 arcmin, indicative of a nova eruption approximately 120 years ago. This result is consistent with the idea that the high mass-transfer rate exhibited by nova-like variables is due to enhanced irradiation of the secondary by the hot white dwarf following a recent nova eruption. The implications of our observations for the lifetime of the nova-like variable phase are discussed. We also examined 4 asynchronous polars, but found no new shells around any of them, so we are unable to confirm that a recent nova eruption is the cause of the asynchronicity in the white dwarf spin. We find tentative evidence of a faint shell around the dwarf nova V1363 Cyg. In addition, we find evidence for a light echo around the nova V2275 Cyg, which erupted in 2001, indicative of an earlier nova eruption approx.300 years ago, making V2275 Cyg a possible recurrent nova. 

Authors: D. I. Sahman, V. S. Dhillon, C. Knigge, T. R. Marsh

Read the pre-print on astro-ph

 

Resolving the stellar activity of the Mira AB binary with ALMA Friday, May 29, 2015 - 09:31

We present the size, shape and flux densities at millimeter continuum wavelengths, based on ALMA science verification observations in Band 3 (~94.6 GHz) and Band 6 (~228.7 GHz), from the binary Mira A (o Ceti) and Mira B. The Mira AB system has been observed with ALMA at a spatial resolution of down to ~25 mas. The extended atmosphere of Mira A and the wind around Mira B sources are resolved and we derive the size of Mira A and of the ionized region around Mira B. The spectral indices within Band 3 (between 89-100 GHz) and between Band 3 and Band 6 are also derived. The spectral index of Mira A is found to change from 1.71+-0.05 within Band 3 to 1.54+-0.04 between Band 3 and 6. The spectral index of Mira B is 1.3+-0.2 in Band 3, in good agreement with measurements at longer wavelengths. However it rises to 1.72+-0.11 between the bands. For the first time the extended atmosphere of a star is resolved at these frequencies and for Mira A the diameter is ~3.8x3.2 AU in Band 3 (with brightness temperature Tb~5300 K) and ~4.0x3.6 AU in Band 6 (Tb~2500 K). Additionally, a bright hotspot of ~0.4 AU and with Tb~10000 K is found on the stellar disc of Mira A. The size of the ionized region around the accretion disk of Mira B is found to be ~2.4 AU. The emission around Mira B is consistent with that from a partially ionized wind of gravitationally bound material from Mira A close to the accretion disk of Mira B. The Mira A atmosphere does not fully match predictions, with brightness temperatures in Band 3 significantly higher than expected, potentially due to shock heating. The hotspot is likely due to magnetic activity and could be related to the previously observed X-ray flare of Mira A.

Authors: W.H.T. Vlemmings, S. Ramstedt, E. O'Gorman, E.M.L. Humphreys, M. Wittkowski, A. Baudry, M. Karovska

Read the paper on asdtro-ph

 

The inner environment of Z Canis Majoris: High-contrast imaging polarimetry with NaCo Tuesday, May 26, 2015 - 10:05

Abstract
Context. Z CMa is a binary composed of an embedded Herbig Be and an FU Ori class star separated by ~100 au. Observational evidence indicates a complex environment in which each star has a circumstellar disk and drives a jet, and the whole system is embedded in a large dusty envelope.
Aims. We aim to probe the circumbinary environment of Z CMa in the inner 400 au in scattered light.
Methods. We use high-contrast imaging polarimetry with VLT/NaCo at the H and Ks bands.
Results. The central binary is resolved in both bands. The polarized images show three bright and complex structures: a common dust envelope, a sharp extended feature previously reported in direct light, and an intriguing bright clump located  south of the binary, which appears spatially connected to the sharp extended feature.
Conclusions. We detect orbital motion when compared to previous observations, and report a new outburst driven by the Herbig star. Our observations reveal the complex inner environment of Z CMa in unprecedented detail and contrast.


Authors: H. Canovas, S. Perez, C. Dougados, J. de Boer, F. Ménard, S. Casassus, M. R. Schreiber, L. A. Cieza, C. Caceres and J. H. Girard

Recently published in A&A, read the pre-print from astro-ph

 

Supernova Hits Star, Results Shocking Thursday, May 21, 2015 - 10:48

The origin of type Ia supernovae, the standard candles used to reveal the presence of dark energy in the universe, is one of astronomy’s most beguiling mysteries. Astronomers know they occur when a white dwarf explodes in a binary system with another star, but the properties of that second star — and how it triggers the explosion — have remained elusive for decades. 

Now, a team of astronomers from the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF), including those associated with UC Santa Barbara, have witnessed a supernova smashing into a nearby star, shocking it, and creating an ultraviolet glow that reveals the size of the companion. The discovery involved the rapid response and coordination of iPTF, NASA’s Swift satellite and the new capabilities of the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network (LCOGT).

- See more at: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/2015/015447/supernova-hits-star-results-shocking#sthash.ppQknp9D.dpuf

 

What is the Shell Around R Coronae Borealis? Monday, May 18, 2015 - 09:52

The hydrogen-deficient, carbon-rich R Coronae Borealis (RCB) stars are known for being prolific producers of dust which causes their large iconic declines in brightness. Several RCB stars, including R CrB, itself, have large extended dust shells seen in the far-infrared. The origin of these shells is uncertain but they may give us clues to the evolution of the RCB stars. The shells could form in three possible ways. 1) they are fossil Planetary Nebula (PN) shells, which would exist if RCB stars are the result of a final, helium-shell flash, 2) they are material left over from a white-dwarf merger event which formed the RCB stars, or 3) they are material lost from the star during the RCB phase. Arecibo 21-cm observations establish an upper limit on the column density of H I in the R CrB shell implying a maximum shell mass of less than 0.3 solar masses. A low-mass fossil PN shell is still a possible source of the shell although it may not contain enough dust. The mass of gas lost during a white-dwarf merger event will not condense enough dust to produce the observed shell, assuming a reasonable gas-to-dust ratio. The third scenario where the shell around R CrB has been produced during the star's RCB phase seems most likely to produce the observed mass of dust and the observed size of the shell. But this means that R CrB has been in its RCB phase for approximately 10^4 yrs.

Authors: Edward J. Montiel, Geoffrey C. Clayton, Dominic C. Marcello, Felix J. Lockman

Read the paper on atro-ph

 

Subaru Telescope Observers Superflare Stars with Large Starspots Wednesday, May 13, 2015 - 11:07

A team of astronomers has used the High Dispersion Spectrograph on the Subaru Telescope to conduct spectroscopic observations of Sun-like "superflare" stars first observed and cataloged by the Kepler Space Telescope. The investigations focused on the detailed properties of these stars and confirmed that Sun-like stars with large starspots can experience superflares.

The team targeted a set of solar-type stars emitting very large flares that release total energies 10-10000 times greater than the biggest solar flares. 

This work follows up on observations made in 2012 (Maehara et al. Nature on 2012 May 24), where the team reported finding several hundred superflares on solar-type stars by analyzing stellar observation data from Kepler Space Telescope. This discovery was very important since it enabled the astronomers to conduct statistical analysis of superflares for the first time. However, more detailed observations were needed to investigate detailed properties of superflare stars and whether such massive flares can occur on ordinary single stars similar to our Sun.

Read the full press release

 

Delta Cephei's hidden companion Tuesday, May 12, 2015 - 14:07

Delta Cephei, prototype of the cepheids, which has given its name to all similar , was discovered 230 years ago by the English astronomer John Goodricke. Since the early 20th century, scientists have been interested in measuring cosmic distances using a relationship between these ' periods of pulsation and their luminosities (intrinsic brightness), discovered by the American Henrietta Leavitt. Today, researchers from the Astronomical Observatory of UNIGE, Johns Hopkins University and the ESA show that Delta Cephei is, in fact, a double star, made up of a cepheid-type variable star and a companion that had thus far escaped detection, probably because of its low luminosity. Yet, pairs of stars, called binaries, complicate the calibration of the period-luminosity relationship, and can bias the measurement of distances. This is a surprising discovery, since Delta Cephei is one of the most studied stars, of which scientists thought they knew almost everything.

Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2015-05-delta-cephei-hidden-companion.html#jCp

 

ALMA Discovers Proto Super Star Cluster -- a Cosmic 'Dinosaur Egg' About to Hatch Thursday, May 7, 2015 - 13:59

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have discovered what may be the first known example of a globular cluster about to be born: an incredibly massive, extremely dense, yet star-free cloud of molecular gas.

“We may be witnessing one of the most ancient and extreme modes of star formation in the universe,” said Kelsey Johnson, an astronomer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and lead author on a paper accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal. “This remarkable object looks like it was plucked straight out of the very early universe. To discover something that has all the characteristics of a globular cluster, yet has not begun making stars, is like finding a dinosaur egg that’s about to hatch.” 

Read the full story at NRAO News

 

PHL 1445: An eclipsing cataclysmic variable with a substellar donor near the period minimum Friday, May 1, 2015 - 15:06

We present high-speed, three-colour photometry of the eclipsing dwarf nova PHL 1445, which, with an orbital period of 76.3 min, lies just below the period minimum of ~82 min for cataclysmic variable stars. Averaging four eclipses reveals resolved eclipses of the white dwarf and bright spot. We determined the system parameters by fitting a parameterised eclipse model to the averaged lightcurve. We obtain a mass ratio of q = 0.087 +- 0.006 and inclination i = 85.2 +- 0.9 degrees. The primary and donor masses were found to be Mw = 0.73 +- 0.03 Msun and Md = 0.064 +- 0.005 Msun, respectively. Through multicolour photometry a temperature of the white dwarf of Tw = 13200 +- 700 K and a distance of 220 +- 50 pc were determined. The evolutionary state of PHL 1445 is uncertain. We are able to rule out a significantly evolved donor, but not one that is slightly evolved. Formation with a brown dwarf donor is plausible; though the brown dwarf would need to be no older than 600 Myrs at the start of mass transfer, requiring an extremely low mass ratio (q = 0.025) progenitor system. PHL 1445 joins SDSS 1433 as a sub-period minimum CV with a substellar donor. These existence of two such systems raises an alternative possibility; that current estimates for the intrinsic scatter and/or position of the period minimum may be in error.

Authors: M. J. McAllister, S. P. Littlefair, I. Baraffe et al

Read the pre-print on arXiv

 

Strange Supernova is "Missing Link" in Gamma-Ray Burst Connection Monday, April 27, 2015 - 15:19

"This is a striking result that provides a key insight about the mechanism underlying these explosions," said Sayan Chakraborti, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA). "This object fills in a gap between GRBs and other supernovae of this type, showing us that a wide range of activity is possible in such blasts," he added.

The object, called Supernova 2012ap (SN 2012ap) is what astronomers term a core-collapse supernova. This type of blast occurs when the nuclear fusion reactions at the core of a very massive star no longer can provide the energy needed to hold up the core against the weight of the outer parts of the star. The core then collapses catastrophically into a superdense neutron star or a black hole. The rest of the star's material is blasted into space in a supernova explosion.

Read the full story at NRAO News

The Lives of the Longest Lived Stars Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 14:22

Heavy stars live like rock stars: they live fast, become big, and die young. Low mass stars, on the other hand, are more persistent, and live longer. The ages of the former stars are measured in millions to billions of years; the expected lifetimes of the latter are measured in trillions. Low mass stars are the turtle that beats the hare.

But why do we want to study the evolution of low mass stars, and their less than imminent demise? There are various good reasons. First, galaxies are composed of stars —and other things, but here we focus on the stars. Second, low-mass stars are by far the most numerous stars in the galaxy, about 70% of stars in the Milky Way are less than 0.3 solar masses (also denoted as 0.3M☉). Third, low-mass stars provide useful insights into stellar evolution: if you want to understand why heavier mass stars evolve in a certain way —e.g. develop into red giants— it is helpful to take a careful look at why the lowest mass stars do not.

Read the full story on Astrobites

Read the original paper

 

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