In the center of the Milky Way galaxy, 25,000 mild years away, is the mysterious star VVV-WIT-08. Many stars change in brightness as a result of they pulsate, or are eclipsed by one other star, however this one is exceptionally uncommon as a result of it turns into fainter over a a number of months – then all of a sudden brighter once more.
Astronomers imagine that VVV-WIT-08 is a brand new class of ‘blinking giant’ binary star system, the place the large mass of fuel is blocked each few many years.
Scientists nonetheless don’t know what might be hiding the planet, although; the companion object, which might be one other star or planet, is surrounded by an opaque disc, masking the star.
“Occasionally we find variable stars that don’t fit into any established category, which we call ‘what-is-this?’, or ‘WIT’ objects. We really don’t know how these blinking giants came to be. It’s exciting to see such discoveries from VVV after so many years planning and gathering the data,” Professor Philip Lucas from the University of Hertfordshire said.
It is possible that some unknown, dark object could have drifted in front of the giant star by chance, but it is incredibly unlikely. Simulations indicate there would have to be a ridiculously large number of dark bodies floating in the Milky Way for such an occurrence to happen by chance.
“It’s wonderful that we simply noticed a darkish, giant and elongated object move between us and the distant star and we will solely speculate what its origin is,” said co-author Dr Sergey Koposov from the University of Edinburgh.
One other star system similar to VVV-WIT-08 has been known for some time: the giant star Epsilon Aurigae, which is partially eclipsed by a massive dust disk every 27 years. Even then, however, it is only dimmed by 50 per cent. Two more of these strange stars have been found in addition to this one, implying that even more may be out there.
“There are actually extra to be discovered, however the problem now could be in determining what the hidden companions are, and the way they got here to be surrounded by discs, regardless of orbiting so removed from the large star,” stated Dr Leigh Smith from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy.
The research is printed in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society