White dwarf and ultra-cool dwarf keep their distance

Apr 18, 2007

Scientists from the University of Hertfordshire have discovered a rare binary system consisting of a white dwarf, a Sun-like star that has reached the end of its life, and an ultra-cool dwarf, which is the smallest kind of star. To make the discovery even more unusual, the co-orbiting pair has by far the widest separation ever detected in this type of binary system.

Avril Day-Jones, who is presenting results at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in Preston, said, “This is a record breaking discovery for a system of this kind. In the other few binary cases that are known, the objects are relatively close together. In this new system, the objects are 600 billion kilometres apart which is hundreds of times wider.”

The group from Hertfordshire believes that the two objects formed at roughly the same time and were originally much closer together. During the death-throes of the white dwarf’s progenitor star, forces induced when gas and dust from the star were thrown off into space caused the ultra-cool dwarf spiral out to its remote position.

Miss Day-Jones said, “Ultra-cool dwarfs are elusive objects and we don’t know that much about them. This type of binary allows us to use our knowledge of white dwarfs, which we understand quite well, to infer properties of the ultra-cool dwarf, such as the temperature, surface gravity, mass and age. We need to discover more of this type of binary system if we want to improve our understanding of ultra-cool dwarfs.”

Source: RAS

Explore further: The riddle of galactic thin–thick disk solved

Related Stories

'Map spam' puts Google in awkward place

2 hours ago

Google was re-evaluating its user-edited online map system Friday after the latest embarrassing incident—an image of an Android mascot urinating on an Apple logo.

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

2 hours ago

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by ...

Recommended for you

The riddle of galactic thin–thick disk solved

Apr 24, 2015

A long-standing puzzle regarding the nature of disk galaxies has finally been solved by a team of astronomers led by Ivan Minchev from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), using state-of-the-art ...

Giant cosmic tsunami wakes up comatose galaxies

Apr 24, 2015

Galaxies are often found in clusters, with many 'red and dead' neighbours that stopped forming stars in the distant past. Now an international team of astronomers, led by Andra Stroe of Leiden Observatory ...

Astronomers find runaway galaxies

Apr 23, 2015

We know of about two dozen runaway stars, and have even found one runaway star cluster escaping its galaxy forever. Now, astronomers have spotted 11 runaway galaxies that have been flung out of their homes ...

Celestial fireworks celebrate Hubble's 25th anniversary

Apr 23, 2015

The glittering tapestry of young stars flaring to life in this new NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image aptly resembles an exploding shell in a fireworks display. This vibrant image of the star cluster Westerlund ...

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.