The strange double stars are located 160,000 light-years away from Earth and are so close that they touch each other
European Southern Observatory’s telescope has located a pair of massive and hottest stars.
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Double stars are so close that they touch each other, indicating they are heading to catastrophe. After which, they either create a single giant star or form a binary black hole.
The strange star system, called VFTS 352, exists deep inside Tarantula Nebula, some 160,000 light-years away from earth and ESO’s observations suggest that the system, which is composed of two young stars, is the most extreme and strange detected so far.
Double stars possess remarkable features. They are so massive that their combined mass is 57 times greater than the Sun and their surface temperature is extremely hot, more than 40,000 degrees Celsius.
Double stars are orbiting just 12 million kilometers (7.5 million miles) apart and their surfaces are so close to each other that they are literally embracing and creating sort of a bridge. The stars fall in the tiny class of “overcontact binaries.” Their unique behavior also links them to ‘vampire stars,’ where small companion sucks matter from its larger partner.
In the case of VFTS 352, however, both stars in the system are of almost identical size and they are sharing their material rather than sucking.
Currently, the mixing of material is about 30 percent. Since both are too close together, strong tidal forces enhance the mixing in the stellar interior.
"The VFTS 352 is the best case yet found for a hot and massive double star that may show this kind of internal mixing," explains lead author Leonardo A. Almeida from University of São Paulo, Brazil. "As such it's a fascinating and important discovery."
Astronomers predict that spinning of two stars will more likely result in producing a gigantic, rapidly rotating single star and it will be one of the most energetic explosions in the universe.
Other possibility is they may become stable enough to avoid merging. “If the stars are mixed well enough, they both remain compact and the VFTS 352 system may avoid merging,” says Selma de Mink of University of Amsterdam. “This would lead the objects down a new evolutionary path that is completely different from classic stellar evolution predictions.”
“In the case of VFTS 352, the components would likely end their lives in supernova explosions, forming a close binary system of black holes. Such a remarkable object would be an intense source of gravitational waves.”
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The finding of such unique double stars will provide astronomers new insights to the evolutionary processes of massive overcontact binary star systems, a process which has been poorly understood so far.