This star system originally consisted of 4 stars, but one of the stellar “sisters” was “too hungry”, and therefore simply swallowed partner.
Scientists from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, have discovered a unique triple star system with the TESS space telescope, which they have named TIC 470710327. It consists of a pair of stars that orbit each other and a more massive third star that orbits this pair. But scientists believe there was also a fourth star that one of the system's stars swallowed up to make it so huge, according to Space.
Such triple star systems are not uncommon in the universe. It is believed that approximately 10% of all star systems are triple. Last year, in one of these systems, scientists for the first time discovered even an exoplanet that revolves around three stars.
A unique star system
But the triple star system TIC 470710327 differs from all known similar objects in its size and shape. The stars in this system are much larger and much closer together than the stars in other triple systems. This means that the mutual gravitational attraction of these stars is much stronger than in systems known to science.
The main pair of stars in the TIC 470710327 system is about 12 times larger than our Sun in total mass, and the larger star that revolves around this pair exceeds the mass of the Sun by 16 times.
The two central stars make a complete revolution around each other in a little more than 24 hours. According to Alejandro Viña-Gómez of the University of Copenhagen, the third star makes a complete revolution around the central pair in 52 days. Such a speed of movement is very surprising, because it is too large for stars of such a large size.
How did this triple star system form?
Scientists were interested in the unusually large size of the third star, which is located separately from the central couples. So they decided to find out how such an unusual triple star system was created.
“At first we assumed that the larger outer star formed first, and then the other two appeared, which are closed in a pair. But in this case, the star would take all the gas and there would be no opportunity for the formation of the other two. Then we assumed that all three the stars appeared together and gradually attracted to each other, but this option was also discarded, since a more massive star in this case should be in the center of the system, and not outside, “says Viña-Gómez.
And only after another simulation, scientists came to the conclusion that the triple star system TIC 470710327 first consisted of two pairs of stars.
The first pair remained intact, but, as for the second pair, its integrity was violated. This pair of stars was where there is only one large star now. Scientists believe that in the process of evolution, one star from this outer pair “swallowed” the second, that is, took away all its stellar matter and therefore became so unusually huge. This happened as a result of the strong attraction of two stars to each other.
“Now our task is to find out if there are still such triple systems and how many of them there are in space. Maybe we can manage to detect even more compact star systems that have even greater mutual gravitational influence,” says Viña-Gómez.
As Focus already wrote, scientists showed a very unusual picture of a star already known for its rich composition of chemical elements. Thus, astronomers tested the operation of a new spectrograph, which is much more powerful than all other similar instruments in ground-based telescopes.
As for space research, as Focus already wrote, NASA officially announced the launch of a new space telescope called Roman Space Telescope. Within a few years, this observatory will be able to unravel the mystery of dark matter.