Mystery Object – It Puzzled Scientists By Blotting Out A Giant Star For 200 Days
The disappearance of a distant, big star for almost 200 days caught scientists by surprise
After about a decade of investigating various causes, scientists still don't know what's blotting out almost all of the star's light.
Some of the remaining hypotheses, detailed in recent research published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, depend on as-yet-unobserved events such as a dark disk of material circling a nearby black hole or unknown, dust-enshrouded partner stars.
Whatever mystery object it was that caused the eclipse of the faraway star must have been enormous.
It looked to have a sharp edge and was apparently totally opaque, blotting off the vast majority of the night sky's brightness.
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Emily Levesque of the University of Washington, who studies huge stars but was not involved in the observations, said:
The degree of drop in brightness is really impressive. It'll be cool to see more observations of this star, of whatever caused this, and to piece together how something like this happened.
The Hercules-Corona Borealis Great Wall is a supercluster of galaxies and the largest known object in the cosmos.
It's so vast that it would take over 10 billion light years to go across the whole thing.
It's important to remember that the universe's age is just 13.8 billion years old.
The Sun is about as typical as a yellow dwarf in terms of stellar size.
Some "hypergiant" stars are much, much larger.
UY Scuti is the largest known star, with a mass greater than 1,700 of our suns.
Currently, the biggest galaxies we can measure span millions of light-years.
Most sources agree that NGC 604 in the Triangulum Galaxy is among the biggest galaxies known.
IC 1101 is the largest known galaxy, with a width of up to 4 million light-years.
A galaxy cluster is a collection of galaxies that are gravitationally bound together.
The Great Wall of Hercules and the Corona Borealis are currently the most promising candidates for the giant supercluster in the universe.
Gamma-ray bursts are seen as an indicator of where large amounts of matter are in the universe.
Everything in space spins.
So, we may conclude that this new object is rotating in space, emitting a beam sweeping across Earth and being detected by radio telescopes.
The researchers speculate that this object must be revolving over a timeframe of minutes.
The scientific crew has a few ideas about the mystery item.
They think it's like a star's core that's collapsed.
Neutron stars and white dwarfs are also possible outcomes for stellar remnants.
Curtin University and Institute for Cultural Research on Ageing professor Gemma Anderson said:
When you see transients, you are witnessing the explosion of a huge star or the activity of its afterlives.
As for why it's blinking minute-by-minute, we haven't figured out the solution yet.
The fact that this strange new object seems to have an extremely powerful magnetic field might be a hint.
This very luminous object is far less massive than our sun, and its radio waves are strongly polarized.
The polarization of radio waves provides evidence for a powerful magnetic field.
Astronomers have anticipated a strange object like this.
A very long duration magnetar was the diagnosis.
Many stars in the cosmos have unusual brightness fluctuations.
Betelgeuse darkened drastically in 2019, provoking worries that it may burst.
Scientists think a cool spot in the southern part of the red supergiant and a blast of dust is to blame for returning to its normal brightness.
In 2015, astronomers saw a star flashing so erratically that some experts suspected an extraterrestrial megastructure was blocking its light.
Tabby's Star, which had been talked about for years as a possible alien technology, turned out to be dust in 2018.
This star that faded in 2012 is also fascinating.
It's uncommon for a star to fade this much and for this long,
says Cambridge astronomer Leigh Smith.
Smith sorted VISTA Variables data in the Via Lactea when he noticed the eclipse.
This initiative watches variable stars in the galaxy's disk in the southern sky.
The VVV initiative uses the acronym WIT to classify unusual items.
The team marked VVV-WIT-08 for further study.
Early observations suggested that the star was 25,000 light-years away, in the direction of the galactic bulge, and that it was an 8-billion-year-old, 100-times-larger-than-our-sun monster that burned at cooler temperatures.
The star dimmed by 97% in the first half of 2012.
Whatever produced the drop was opaque, obstructing visible and infrared light during the eclipse.
Jason Wright of Penn State University, who wasn't involved, thinks it's hard to grasp.
It's opaque and larger than the star, which is rare.
Follow-up studies employed ESA's Gaia satellite and OGLE to learn more about the star.
It became harder to determine the star's size and distance, and its velocity across space was strange - VVV-WIT-08 seemed to be leaving the Milky Way.
Smith and his colleagues were perplexed by the star's odd properties.
They examined brightness fluctuations caused by stellar pulsations or spasms, which are frequent but not spectacular in VVV-WIT-08.
The scientists also ruled out a fortuitous alignment with a dark foreground object closer to Earth, such as a faint star.
We'd need several black floating things. That's an unusual scenario - we should have spotted more nearby.
Wright and others assume the occluder is gravitationally connected to VVV-WIT-08.
If so, the scientists believe a dusty debris disk circling a companion star may be the best explanation.
A supergiant star, Epsilon Aurigae, has a supergiant star eclipsed every 27 years by a giant and dust-enshrouded companion.
Our data doesn't demonstrate that dust filters light, letting longer and redder wavelengths through.
Debris disks usually taper off rather than have abrupt stops, although Wright notes that tiny moonlets shave clean holes in Saturn's rings.
It's unclear whether VV-WIT-08 has a partner.
The scientists studied main sequence stars and white dwarfs, but their disks don't explain the results.
Astronomers assume a black hole with a dark, thick debris ring should exist but have never seen one.
A circling partner may potentially remove the obscuring dust, but it wouldn't explain the data.
Levesque says concentrating on dust in the system makes sense since large, developing stars lose stuff that ends up in orbit - even if those systems don't look like this one.
It's not too odd; it's expected. Dust doesn't appear this nice. Thus its distribution must be highly unique.
Wright thinks it's too soon to look into whether or not a vast alien structure flew in front of the star.
He says it's premature. This star is mysterious.
The Mystery Of The Massive Star Disappeared!
At a distance of around 11 million light-years from Earth, Hubble has uncovered a Spiral galaxy designated IC 342, commonly known as Caldwell 5, hidden behind Milky Way.
The object may be an "ultra-long period magnetar," a theoretically possible but never-seen celestial body.
A white dwarf, the smoldering core of a long-dead star, is another possibility.
In any case, that's unique, too.
So far, this white dwarf pulsar is the largest and most powerful object of its kind that we are aware of.
For decades, scientists have speculated that the unseen, compact, and highly enormous object at the heart of the Milky Way is a supermassive blackhole termed Sagittarius A*.
The companion object, which may be another star or a planet, is encircled by an opaque disc, obscuring the star, but scientists are still unsure of what it is.
A fortuitous passage of some unknown dark object in front of the huge star is feasible but quite improbable.
Computer simulations show that there would have to be a ridiculous number of dark bodies in the Milky Way for this to happen by accident.
Astronomers say that VVV-WIT-08 is a new type of binary star system called a "blinking giant," in which a huge amount of gas is blocked every few decades.