Scientists baffled by strange outburst activity of a distant star system

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binary star system
Artist's impression of a binary star system (NASA)

Space, as we all know, is a big area full of mysteries and unanswered questions. Scientists have observed a star system located 16,000 light years away which is flaring in an unexpected manner and they are unable to explain the reason behind it.

AG Draconis is the star system behind this peculiar activity. It was under observation by the astronomers since the late 19th century. Even though it was being studied and observed they are unable to find the reason for this peculiar activity. It is a binary star which is made of two separate stars orbiting around each other due to its gravitational arrangement. Binary stars have the ability to show some bizarre and breathtaking interactions which depend on the proximity between the two stars.

The binary stars, in this case, consist of a cool giant star and a dwarf white star which exhibit symbiotic flaring activity. Every 9 to 15 years AG Draconis has exhibited stellar outbursts which are an intense phase of brightening which repeats after some number of years at a time. According to a new study led by astrophysicist Rudolf Gális from the Pavol Jozef Šafárik University in Slovakia, there were 36 outbursts events recorded since 1932 in 6 stages of outburst activity. However recently, the outburst events have set to change and stars have decided to discard the current outburst cycle.

In this study, there were ultraviolet and X-Ray observations and from these studies, scientists observed cooler outbursts during the early stages and hot outbursts during the later stages. As the real reason behind the outbursts is not yet known, it is believed to be due to the thermonuclear reactions when accretion rate of material pulled from the giant star into dwarf star exceeds the critical value and luminosity of the hot component increases.

This phenomena, however, seems to be appearing different now. In 2015 AG Draconis marked the initialization of the active stage with a hot outburst and not with a cool outburst as expected from the available historical data. This successive hot outburst continued in the following years till 2018.

Scientists are unable to understand the shift in the outburst patterns. The astronomy community was baffled after seeing this result which is against the 130 years of observation pattern. The future predictions of this star lie in a dark maze of unanswered questions. As per their estimation, the next outburst might have already occurred by now, although researchers did not have the chance to write about it yet. Scientists will continue to observe the star and write observations according to the shift occurring.

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