Mysterious double star system AR Scorpii
Scientists have discovered a new mysterious solar system in which two dwarf stars periodically emit visible light, UV radiation and radio waves.
Astronomers have discovered a double star system that produces a massive burst of radiation exactly every 118 seconds. This pair of stars emits a broad spectrum of electromagnetic waves with high intensity - ranging from radio waves to visible light and UV radiation.
These are a white dwarf and a red dwarf, which orbit each other for 3.6 hours. AR Scorpii was discovered and catalogued over 40 years ago. At that time AR Scorpii was thought to be a single star with brightness variations. Only last year, researchers from Germany, Belgium and Great Britain reported that it was a double star system. And this stellar duo is behaving very strangely.
Researchers became aware of this system and began to study it with both terrestrial and the "Hubble" space telescope. Under the leadership of Tom Marsch of the University of Warwick, they discovered that this is a completely new type of exotic star tandem. They could prove that the white dwarf is responsible for the emission of the radiation.
The decisive factor for the radiation pulses is the speed with which the white dwarf rotates around itself. Thus, it generates magnetic fields that accelerate electrons to almost the speed of light. These electrons cause the observable bursts of radiation. The light emitted in a periodic rhythm hits the surface of the red dwarf, which then shines brightly in the given rhythm. This type of star is the most common in the universe and therefore standard again.
Even if the questions around AR Scorpii are largely answered, the mystery remains where the electrons accelerated by the magnetic fields come from. Until now, only the so-called neutron stars were known as pulsed radiation sources. "We have known that they exist for 50 years," says Boris Gänsicke from the University of Warwick, who was involved in the research, "there were also theoretical predictions that white dwarfs should be able to do so. It is very exciting that we have now actually discovered such a system".
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