Thursday, April 11, 2024

Artist's Animation: The Violent History of Stellar Pair HD 148937 | ESO

Artist's Animation: The Violent History of Stellar Pair HD 148937 | ESO

This animation shows the violent event that changed the fate of the stellar system HD 148937. Originally, the system had at least three stars, two of them close together and another one much more distant, until one day the two inner stars clashed and merged. This violent event created a new, larger and magnetic star, now in pair with the more distant one. The merger also released the materials that created the spectacular nebula now surrounding the stars.

While the animations of the merger event and the birth of the nebula are artist’s impressions, the view of the nebula at the end is based on a real image from the VLT Survey Telescope, hosted at the European Southern Observatory’s Paranal site.

In a new study using ESO data, astronomers have shown that the two stars are unusually different from each other—one appears much younger and, unlike the other, is magnetic. Moreover, the nebula is significantly younger than either star at its heart, and is made up of gases normally found deep within a star and not on the outside. These clues together helped solve the mystery of the HD 148937 system—there were most likely three stars in the system until two of them clashed and merged, creating a new, larger and magnetic star. This violent event also created the spectacular nebula that now surrounds the remaining stars. 


Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO)/L. Cal├žada, M. Kornmesser/VPHAS+ team Acknowledgement: Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit (CASU)

Duration: 32 seconds

Release Date: April 4, 2024

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