Astronomers have discovered the formation of an unusual binary system

Astronomers have discovered the formation of an unusual binary system
Astronomers have discovered the formation of an unusual binary system

After studying the resulting image of the young star, astronomers discovered a second object in its orbit. In the course of observations, it turned out that its satellite is not a planet, as previously assumed, but another star.


The main object of the scientists' research was originally a young massive star surrounded by a rotating disk of gas and dust, called MM 1a. A faint object MM 1b was detected directly behind the disk, in its orbit. Astronomers believe this is one of the first examples of a "fragmented" disk found around a massive young star. The results of their research are published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.

“Stars form in large clouds of gas and dust in interstellar space. When these clouds are destroyed by gravity, they begin to rotate faster, forming a disk around them. In low-mass stars like the Sun, it is in these discs that planets can form. In our case, the star and its disk, which we studied, are so massive that instead of observing the formation of a planet on the disk, we are witnessing the birth of another star,”explains University of Leeds researcher and research leader Dr. John Ilee. …

By measuring the amount of radiation and the frequency shifts of the light, the researchers were able to calculate the mass of both objects. It turned out that MM 1a weighs 40 times more than the Sun, and the mass of the smaller orbiting star MM 1b, in turn, is less than half of the mass of the star.


Observation of the emission of dust (indicated in green) and hot gas rotating in a disk around MM 1a / © J. D. Ilee

“Binary stars are often of equal mass and tend to form together like siblings. The discovery of a young binary system with a mass ratio of 80 to 1 is very unusual and involves completely different processes of the formation of both objects, "the scientists say.

The researchers note that the newly discovered young star MM 1b may be surrounded by its own circumstellar disk, which may have the potential to form planets. According to scientists, stars of the same mass as MM 1a only live for about a million years, and then explode, therefore, despite the fact that MM 1b may have the possibility of creating its own planetary system in the future, it will not last long.

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