Massive binary star weighing 400 solar masses discovered
Washington: A binary star that potentially weighed 300 to 400 solar masses at birth has been observed, which astronomers believe that could be the most massive double star discovered so far.
The present day total mass of the two stars is between 200 and 300 times that of the Sun, depending on its evolutionary stage, which possibly makes it the most massive binary star known to date.
The study was led by astronomer Hugues Sana of the University of Amsterdam and bachelor student Tayo van Boeckel.
The massive binary star R144 can be found in an outer area of the star-forming region 30 Doradus in the Large Magellanic Cloud. A number of particularly bright stars can be found in the center of that region with a characteristic pattern of spectral lines.
The masses of these so-called Wolf-Rayet stars are up to 250 times the mass of the Sun. R144 is the visually brightest light source of this type in the star-forming region 30 Doradus and radiates strongly in X-rays. This was an indication that R144 is a binary star. This presumption has now been confirmed thanks to the discovery of periodic (orbital) changes in the spectrum.
Spectra of R144 have been obtained with the X-shooter spectrograph on the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory. X-shooter is one of the most sensitive spectrographs on Earth and can observe light from the near-ultraviolet to the near-infrared in one shot.
"The identification of this candidate would have been a great challenge without X-shooter. This spectrograph makes observations a lot easier and much more efficient, especially because less observation time is required to cover a large spectral range," explained Sana.
The spectrum forms the fingerprint of a star. From the changing shape and position of the spectral lines it becomes clear that R144 is a binary star. The spectral lines also suggest that the binary system is formed by two hydrogen-rich Wolf-Rayet stars with similar masses, and a current total mass of 200 to 300 solar masses. NGC 3603-A1 was formerly known as the most massive binary star, with a total mass that is equal to 212 times the mass of the Sun.
"It is a mystery how extremely massive stars form," explained co-author Frank Tramper (University of Amsterdam).
"According to the most widely accepted theories, stars of hundreds of solar masses can only form in massive star clusters. The fact that R144 lies far out from the central star cluster in 30 Doradus is possibly an indication that these systems can form in isolation," he added.
But co-author Alex de Koter ( University of Amsterdam ), suggested an alternative scenario for the formation of R144.
He said that R144 could have been formed in the central star cluster and ejected by dynamical interactions with other massive stars.
The team is already working on follow-up observations to determine whether R144 is indeed a `runaway` star, to definitively establish its mass and its other physical properties, in order to decide whether R144 really is the most massive double star discovered so far.
The results of this study have been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- I eat beef, can somebody stop me?: Kiren Rijiju hits back at Naqvi
- Delhi: Visually impaired boy scores 91.4% in CBSE 12th Board exams
- MP: 14-year-old boy works as bonded labour since 2009
- UP: Man chops off wife's nose, hair for dowry
- Zee Media Exclusive: The plight of yoga expert Tejaswi Sharma
- Woman denied flat in Mumbai for being a Muslim
- 4 Indians in Forbes' 100 most powerful women list
- BBV: What challenges lie ahead of Modi govt?
- Gujjar stir: HC asks Rajasthan govt to clear rail track, roads
- Heat wave continues in India, death toll climbs to over 1,400
- Gujjar stir: HC asks Rajasthan govt to clear rail track, roads- Part II
- Megastar Amitabh Bachchan slapped with Rs 1 crore notice
- Kenyan Lawyer offers to marry Barack Obama's daughter Malia
- AIB: The 'Third Gender's right to dignity'
- Maggi likely to face ban in India!
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 to be announced today
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 (cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in) postponed?
- Check mahresult.nic.in for MSBSHSE Maharashtra Class 12 HSC Result 2015
- Maharashtra MSBSHSE HSC Result 2015 on mahresult.nic.in
- I was misquoted, says Kiren Rijiju on 'beef' remark
- First look: Salman Khan steals thunder in `Bajrangi Bhaijaan`
- mahresult.nic.in updated with MSBSHSE Maharashtra HSC Class XII Result 2015
- Check cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in for CBSE Class 10 Result 2015
- Manmohan Singh defends himself on 2G charge, slams Modi govt for 'carbon copy' schemes
- Sonia Gandhi 'unconstitutional authority' during UPA: PM Narendra Modi
- Hours after attacking NDA govt, Manmohan Singh meets PM Narendra Modi
- CBSE Class 10 (Class X Board) Result 2015 on cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in at 2 pm
- Reservation stir: Five percent job quota to Gujjars unlikely, hints Rajasthan govt
- PMO website revamped, now send e-mail to PM Modi directly
- Death toll climbs to over 1400 as intense heatwave continues in India