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Amazing Image Captures Two Stars Violently Fighting Each Other

by : Lucy Connolly on : 09 Feb 2020 15:59
Amazing Image Captures Two Stars Violently Fighting Each OtherAmazing Image Captures Two Stars Violently Fighting Each OtherEuropean Southern Observatory (ESO)

When you picture a star, you probably imagine it existing pretty peacefully in space, side by side with its fellow star friends. Right?

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Well, I’m here to completely destroy that image you’ve got inside your head, because it turns out stars aren’t that peaceful after all. Nope, turns out they’re pretty savage and actually get into violent fights with each other.

Don’t believe me? A telescope in Chile recently captured the moment one star swallowed another, ending its life prematurely in an epic battle and disproving everything we thought we knew about the Solar System.

You can watch the moment the stars collide below:

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Astronomers were able to capture the footage using the Atacama Large Millimetre/Submillimetre Array (ALMA) alongside data from the Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX), after they spotted a gas cloud that resulted from the collision.

The battle occurred within the star system HD101584, and, according to a statement by Hans Olofsson of the Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, it is special ‘in the sense that this “death process” was terminated prematurely and dramatically as a nearby low-mass companion star was engulfed by the giant’.

Olofsson, the lead author of the study published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, and a team of scientists discovered that when the larger star – which had puffed up into a red giant – attempted to overtake its smaller companion, the latter fought back and spiralled towards the giant’s core.

star engulfs other starstar engulfs other starEuropean Southern Observatory (ESO)

Although they didn’t collide, the larger star burst, scattering its gas layers and leaving its core exposed. The blue and red blobs of stellar gas seen in the new image, released this week by the European Southern Observatory (ESO), were formed when jets of gas blasted through the ejected material.

In simple terms, what happened to the stars goes as follows: during the fight/argument/whatever you want to call it, one of the stars grew so large it was able to engulf the other, which then spiralled and caused the original star to shed its outer layers.

And although it might not seem all that important, the battle will actually help astronomers understand what the sun will go through as it evolves towards death.

stars collide and eat the otherstars collide and eat the otherEuropean Southern Observatory (ESO)
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Pretty epic, right?

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Science, Astrophysics, Chile, Solar System, Space, Stars, Telescope

Credits

European Southern Observatory (ESO)/YouTube and 2 others
  1. European Southern Observatory (ESO)/YouTube

    Zooming into HD101584

  2. European Southern Observatory (ESO)

    ALMA catches beautiful outcome of stellar fight

  3. Astronomy & Astrophysics

    HD 101584: circumstellar characteristics and evolutionary status