Astronomers have found a strange star about 25,000 light-years from Earth, which almost disappeared for several months before reappearing.
Astronomers believe the star, called VVV-WIT-08, could belong to a new class of stars – giant monsters 100 times larger than the sun obscured by a UFO orbiting once every few decades.
Although space is mostly relatively empty, it stands to reason that with all the objects out there, some of them would line up in such a way that the stars would be faint from our Earthly perspective, from time to time.
It is not always easy to know what these objects are. Although other stars showed similar dips in light, none of them were this deep. Astronomers believe the culprit may be another star or planet, surrounded by a dense, opaque disk of dust in a long orbit around VVV-WIT-08, which completely covers the star as it passes within our view.
Astronomer Sergey Koposov, from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, said: “It is amazing that we have just observed a large, dark object passing between us and the distant star and we can only speculate as to what its source is.”
A red giant star with a companion in a 69-year orbit, TYC 2505-672-1, obscures the star for 3.5 years.
The dimming was also observed by experimenting with a gravitational-optical lens using the Warsaw Telescope in Chile, which means that there was no glitch.
The data shows that the dimming event lasted for about 200 days, with a nearly identical light curve, dampening the star’s light by up to 97%. Also, the density of objects required in that region of space to align two random objects by chance is much higher than what was observed, so the team believes the two objects are bound by gravity. The orbital period is unknown, but it should be at least a few decades, according to mathematical modeling.
The discovery suggests that such systems may not be rare.
Astronomer Lee Smith, from the University of Cambridge, said: “There is certainly more to be found, but the challenge now is to figure out what the mysterious objects are, and how they became surrounded by disks, despite spinning away from the giant star. By doing so, we may learn something. new about how these types of systems evolve.”
The search was published in Monthly notifications of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Source: Science Alert