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Stars


— Space

Astronomers spot enormous twin stars heading for a cataclysmic end

Using the ESO's Very Large Telescope, astronomers have discovered a pair of enormous stars, known as an overcontact binary system, that orbit so close to each other that a bridge of stellar material has formed. Scientists predict that at some point, the strange partnership will end in spectacular fashion, with the stellar bodies either merging to create a single titanic star, or in a violent supernova, that would birth a binary black hole system.

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— Space

Unexplained ripples streaking away from neighboring star could hold clues to planet formation

Astronomers have been left puzzled after images from the ESO's Very Large Telescope in Chile revealed mysterious wave-shaped structures around a nearby star, the likes of which have never been seen before. The features were observed in the disc of dust surrounding the young star AU Microscopii (AU Mic), and could lead to a new understanding of how planets form inside such discs.

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— Space

Study lends support to prevailing model of Milky Way structure

Results from a new technique designed to map the structure of the Milky Way appear to support the four spiral arm model of our galaxy. A team of researchers from the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, used data collected by NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) spacecraft to pinpoint star clusters located in the resource rich environment of the spiral arms, and use them as markers to trace the structure of our galaxy.

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— Space

Brown dwarf aurora may help characterize distant exoplanets

The discovery of a powerful aurora surrounding a distant failed star may in future aid astronomers in their hunt for habitable planets. The aurora is the first to be discovered around a brown dwarf, known as LSRJ 1835+3259 (LSRJ). It's a type of star that shares many characteristics with known exoplanets, and the technique used to observe the phenomenon could one day be a factor in determining whether a planet could sustain life.

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— Space

New map reveals a third of the stars in the Milky Way have dramatically changed orbit

It's easy to think of stars as being fixed in place, because that's how we see them in the sky. But like Earth and the other planets, they have orbits. And it turns out those orbits can change dramatically. In creating a new map of the Milky Way as part of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), scientists recently discovered that around 30 percent of the stars in our galaxy have done exactly that – they've moved into a totally new orbit.

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— Space

Astronomers discover Jupiter's twin orbiting a distant Sun-like star

A team of international astronomers has discovered a gas giant orbiting a distant star with characteristics remarkably similar to those of our own Jovian planet, Jupiter. The significance of the discovery is that the gas giant was found to orbit roughly the same distance from its host star HIP 11915, as Jupiter does from the Sun. This positioning may have profound implications for creating conditions favorable to the development of a habitable Earth-like planet in HIP 11915's inner solar system.

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— Space

ALMA captures sharpest ever view of star formation in the distant universe

The Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) has succeeded in imaging star formation regions in a distant galaxy, with a resolution six times greater than that achievable by the Hubble Space Telescope. The galaxy, dubbed HATLAS J090311.6+003906 or SDP.81, would ordinarily be far too distant to be observed in such impressive detail. However, thanks to an amazing cosmic coincidence, it has fallen foul of a phenomenon known as gravitational lensing, which essentially grants astronomers the opportunity to gaze into the distant past.

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— Space

Herschel images present a stunning insight into the distribution of matter in our galaxy

Three stunning new images from ESA's Herschel Space Observatory are providing new insights into how matter is distributed in our galaxy. Observations made by the orbital telescope have led astronomers to conclude that our galaxy is threaded with filamentary structures similar to those featured in the newly-released images, the smallest of which stretches across 170 light years of space.

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— Space

Astronomers observe origin of Type la supernova

An international team of astronomers from Europe, Israel and the United States has succeeded in shedding light on the origin of Type la supernovae – powerful nuclear explosions in deep space that allow us to chart the vast distances between galaxies. It is known that a white dwarf star is responsible for creating the distinctive, intensely bright explosion, but the cause of the supernovae are still a topic of hot debate.

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