Astronomers Discover New Star in Southern Cross

Jan 18, 2007
Astronomers Discover New Star in Southern Cross
Clockwise, the Southern Cross is prominently displayed on Australia's flag, with beta Crucis just right of the Union Jack; an optical image of the Southern Cross, with beta Crucis indicated by the yellow rectangle and its newly discovered companion shown at the lower left; the Chandra image is color coded, with high energy x-rays colored blue, medium energy x-rays colored green, and lower energy x-rays colored red. Credit: Swarthmore College

A research team at Swarthmore College discovered a previously unknown companion to the bright star, beta Crucis, in the Southern Cross. As a prominent member of the well-known constellation Crux, or the Southern Cross, it appears on five national flags: Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa.

The discovery was announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting held in Seattle January 5-10.

The companion star was discovered accidentally while the research team was using the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory to study the x-rays emitted by beta Crucis itself.

“We were interested in how the highly supersonic stellar winds of hot, luminous stars produce x-rays,” says team leader David Cohen, asssociate professor of astronomy. “We were surprised to see two strong x-ray sources where we had expected to see only one.”

Astrophysics major Michael Kuhn ’07 of Charlottesville, Va., presented the findings in Seattle. His work analyzing the x-ray data from both beta Crucis and its newly-discovered companion is the basis in a forthcoming paper on this project for the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Cohen’ s research team also includes Swarthmore College Associate Professor of Astronomy Eric Jensen and Marc Gagné, assistant professor in the geology and astronomy department at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Their project was funded by NASA and by a Eugene M. Lang Summer Research Fellowship from Swarthmore.

Source: Swarthmore College

Explore further: Telescopes hint at neutrino beacon at the heart of the Milky Way

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

NASA issues 'remastered' view of Jupiter's moon Europa

4 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Scientists have produced a new version of what is perhaps NASA's best view of Jupiter's ice-covered moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was obtained in the late 1990s by NASA's Galileo ...

Dish restores Turner channels to lineup

4 hours ago

Turner Broadcasting channels such as Cartoon Network and CNN are back on the Dish network after being dropped from the satellite TV provider's lineup during contract talks.

LiquidPiston unveils quiet X Mini engine prototype

9 hours ago

LiquidPiston has a new X Mini engine which is a small 70 cubic centimeter gasoline powered "prototype. This is a quiet, four-stroke engine with near-zero vibration. The company said it can bring improvements ...

Recommended for you

A colorful gathering of middle-aged stars

Nov 26, 2014

NGC 3532 is a bright open cluster located some 1300 light-years away in the constellation of Carina(The Keel of the ship Argo). It is informally known as the Wishing Well Cluster, as it resembles scattered ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.