The researchers were able to visualize a binary star orbiting in a disk of dust. They were based on data collected over 130 years.
Astronomers were able to visualize a rare type of stellar binary star, where one of the objects is approaching the end of its life. The researchers based their calculations on a 130-year dataset that covers a wide range of information, from radio waves to X-rays.
“There are only about 300 Taurus RV variables known in the Milky Way,” the researchers note. “We focused our research on the second brightest, U Monocerotis, which is currently the first system to detect X-rays.”
An article describing the results of the researchers appeared in The Astrophysical Journal.
The U Mon system lies about 3,600 light-years from the constellation Monoceros. The two stars revolve around each other about every six and a half years in an orbit that is tilted from our point of view by about 75 degrees.
The primary star, a yellow supergiant, has a mass of about twice the mass of the Sun. Due to constant changes in pressure and temperature in its atmosphere, the object expands and contracts, and these pulsations create predictable changes in brightness with alternating deep and shallow dips into the light.
The cool disk around both stars is composed of gas and dust ejected by the primordial star as it evolves. Binary orbits in the central slit, which, according to scientists, are comparable to the distance between two stars at their maximum separation, when they are at a distance of about 870 million km.