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White Dwarf Lashes Red Dwarf with Mystery Rays

Jul 28, 2016 05:38 AM EDT
Artist’s impression of the exotic binary star system AR Scorpii
A binary star system exhibits "brutal" behavior due the mysterious rays emitted by a spinning white dwarf star that is hitting a nearby red white star.
(Photo : M. Garlick/University of Warwick, ESA/Hubble)

If there's a light that's better and more mysterious than the light saber, it's the mysterious ray of light that a white dwarf star seems to be hitting a larger red dwarf star with.

In an artist impression of the binary star system, a white dwarf star that reached out to its neighboring red dwarf star emitted a visible white streak or a mysterious ray. With the NASA/ESA telescope and other Earth-based telescopes, the "brutal" behavior of a new exotic binary star has been discovered.

The exotic binary star was discovered in the AR Scorpii system. The exotic binary star is spinning real fast and is powering electrons up to almost the same as the speed of light. In turn, it produces high energy particles that releases blasts or the mysterious rays referred to into the photograph. The ray is so powerful that it can lash the red dwarf star causing the entire system to pulse and to brighten every 1.97 minutes.

"AR Scorpii was discovered over 40 years ago, but its true nature was not suspected until we started observing it in June 2015. We realised we were seeing something extraordinary the more we progressed with our observations," lead researcher Tom Marsh of the University of Warwick's Astrophysics Group said in a statement.

Many groups of astronomers have worked together to explain the unusual behavior of the system that hasn't been observed before, including astronomers from Germany, Belgium and the UK. The University of Warwick, using innovative telescopes on the ground and in space led the follow-up observations.

This rare behavior occurs in the star system AR Scorpii in the constellation of Scorpius that lies 380 light-years away from Earth. The star system is composed of the spinning white dwarf star and the cool red dwarf star that orbits each other. But the unique twist is the brutal behavior of the binary system, according to Eurekalert.

The electrons emitted by the spinning white dwarf star creates the mysterious rays that whip through space like a beam that even reaches the face of the cool red star.

This is the first time this kind of "brutal" behavior has been detected in a binary star system and it is currently fascinating astronomers and experts worldwide.


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