An international team of astronomers has discovered an unusual phenomenon in the center of the Milky Way: a star whose brightness is gradually decreasing, then rising again.
The star was named the star VVV-WIT-08: it is located in the center of the Galaxy, at a distance of more than 25 thousand light-years. The peculiarity of the object is that its brightness first decreases 30 times over several months, and then becomes brighter again.
The authors of the new work believe that the found “blinking giant” belongs to a new class of binary star systems, where a huge star, which is hundreds of times larger than the Sun, is eclipsed every few decades by an invisible orbiting satellite – a smaller star or a large planet surrounded by an opaque disk.
We have observed a dark, large and elongated object passing between us and a distant star, and we can only speculate about its origin.
Sergey Koposov, one of the authors of the work and an employee of the University of Edinburgh.
Also known are half a dozen star systems where giant stars are periodically eclipsed by large, opaque disks. The authors proposed to single out the giant “blinking” stars in a separate class and purposefully study them.
Now the main task of the authors, according to them, is to find out what these hidden satellites are and how they ended up surrounded by disks, despite the fact that they rotate so far from the giant star.
“The challenge is to figure out what these hidden satellites are around the stars and how they ended up surrounded by disks.