July 13, 2021, 19:57 GMT
Scientists estimate that the binary system HD265435 will generate a Type Ia supernova in about 70 million years.
An international team of astronomers has discovered a binary system in which stars spin in a spiral and eventually meet, forming a supernova.
It’s the HD265435 system, which is 1,500 light-years away. It consists of a white dwarf, a “dead” star that has burned all its fuel, and a hot secondary dwarf that is still burning helium. A dwarf, whose mass is similar to that of the Sun, is the size of Earth while a sub-dwarf has a much larger size. The combined mass of the two stars is estimated to be between 1.3 and 1.9 solar masses.
Currently, the two stars orbit each other approximately every 100 minutes. Because the sub-dwarf’s brightness varies over time, scientists suggest that it is indeed distorted – assuming a teardrop-like shape – near a heavier one. They estimate that a Type Ia supernova will be born in the system in about 70 million years.
“We don’t know exactly how these supernovae explode, but we do know that they must happen because we see them elsewhere in the universe,” says Ingrid Bellisoli, a member of the team, at Release from the University of Warwick.
“One hypothesis is that if the white dwarf accumulates enough mass from the hot sub-dwarf, so that when they orbit each other and get close, the matter will start escaping from the hot sub-dwarf and fall on the white dwarf. Another way is because they lose their energy due to gravitational wave emissions, They will get so close to each other until they merge. Once the white dwarf gains enough mass either way, it will transform into a supernova.”
The discovery is described in an article published Monday in Nature Astronomy.
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