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Beautiful nebula, violent history: clash of stars solves stellar mystery


Waspie_Dwarf

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Beautiful nebula, violent history: clash of stars solves stellar mystery

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When astronomers looked at a stellar pair at the heart of a stunning cloud of gas and dust, they were in for a surprise. Star pairs are typically very similar, like twins, but in HD 148937, one star appears younger and, unlike the other, is magnetic. New data from the European Southern Observatory (ESO) suggest there were originally three stars in the system, until two of them clashed and merged. This violent event created the surrounding cloud and forever altered the system’s fate.

“When doing background reading, I was struck by how special this system seemed,” says Abigail Frost, an astronomer at ESO in Chile and lead author of the study published today in Science. The system, HD 148937, is located about 3800 light-years away from Earth in the direction of the Norma constellation. It is made up of two stars much more massive than the Sun and surrounded by a beautiful nebula, a cloud of gas and dust. “A nebula surrounding two massive stars is a rarity, and it really made us feel like something cool had to have happened in this system. When looking at the data, the coolness only increased.”

Read More: ➡️ ESO

 

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