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Astronomers Found A Peculiar Star In The Shape Of Teardrop

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Astronomers Found A Peculiar Star In The Shape Of Teardrop
Artist's animation of HD74423. (Gabriel Pérez Díaz/IAC)

Well, let’s agree on the fact that most of us had an image of what shape stars would be. We would also think, what if a star would be in particular? To all those who wanted a star in the shape of a teardrop, here you go. There’s a surprise for you?

Scientists have found out a star is in the shape of teardrops.

The star HD74423, an A-type main-sequence star about 1.7 times the mass of the Sun, and younger, pulsates in only one direction, thus giving it its shape.

Professor and Astronomer Don Kurtz of the University of Central Lancashire in the UK said, “We’ve known theoretically that stars like this should exist since the 1980s. I’ve been looking for a star like this for nearly 40 years, and now we’ve finally found one.”

Indecisive of what they saw, citizen scientists approached professional astronomers Don Kurtz and Gerald Handler of Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre in Poland. The citizen scientists were looking for anomalies as they were looking for the data from NASA’s planet-hunting space telescope TESS when they noticed the strange pulsating behavior of this star. The star was spotted about 1500 light-years from Earth.

WHY IS IT SUCH DIFFERENT?

The reason the star pulsates is that the star has a close companion, a red dwarf, and the two are locked in a super tight orbit of just 1.6 days. At such closeness, the red dwarf’s gravity is distorting, HD74423, pulling it into more of an egg shape or teardrop shape.

“What first caught my attention was the very fact it had been a chemically peculiar star,” said co-author Simon Murphy from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney in the statement.

Low metallicity is a property of older stars, but this star is distinct. It’s a  chemically peculiar object known as a Lambda Boötis star. The little metallic nature is thought to result from star slurping up metal-depleted gas from its immediate environment.” Stars like this are usually reasonably rich in metals – but this is often metal-poor, making it a rare hot star.” he said.

Now that we’ve found one star, astronomers think they’ll find many more lopsided stars out there, hiding in plain sight. The availability of more modern tools and technology has enabled them to see this star. Thus it is fairly evident that we can find more such stars.

Citizen science is more significant. Human Eyes can find far more disparities than AI can. There are about 16000 volunteers now at TESS, and you too can be a part of it (you can join in here).

Murphy also added that with such a revolution in data quality like this, it is expected that we observe new phenomena. Murphy said. “We might find more of those stars with tidally trapped pulsations, but they’re still rare. It’s just the case that if you observe many thousands of stars, you’ll find super rare objects occasionally.”

Meanwhile, astronomers are focusing on star HD74423, and also they now know what a star like this looks from the data and thus can apply this knowledge to search more. They are still collecting observations and dealing with mathematically describing how the binary numeration system behaves.

The astronomers suspect it won’t be the last of its kind to be discovered. “We expect to seek more hidden things within the TESS data,” said co-author Saul Rappaport, a professor at MIT.

They have published research in  Nature Astronomy.

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