Astronomers found a twisted magnetic field in space.  It hid a star

Astronomers found a twisted magnetic field in space. It hid a star

Somewhere across the universe, a magnetic field screamed.

Two stars, created in the same stellar nursery but born on opposite ends, seem to have found each other. But when these stars were in line, there were no angels laughing or futures falling into place. There was a disturbance.

The magnetic field surrounding this glittering duo creased, creaked and distorted, according to an article that will be published this week in The Astrophysical Journal.

Although the researchers in the new study are still not entirely sure of the cause behind this strange phenomenon, the prevailing hypothesis is that when one of these star siblings moved closer to the other, “it changed the dynamics of the cloud to rotate its magnetic field”, Erin Cox, a astrophysicist at Northwestern University and lead author of the journal, said in a statement.

And in addition to telling the beautiful story of a cosmic homecoming, the team’s strange, magnetic anomaly can lead to quite massive discoveries along the way. Things like understanding the habitability of the exoplanetsun-like star behavior and maybe even help search for extraterrestrial life.

It’s about decoding all the secrets binary star systems – like the two who are being scrutinized for arguing with their own stellar nursery magnetic field – potentially shedding light on what planets in their vicinity might look like.

“Planet and star formation occur simultaneously, and binary stars interact dynamically with each other,” Cox said. “In our census of exoplanets, we know that there are planets around these binary stars, but we do not know much about how these planets differ from those that live around isolated stars.”

The earth lives around an isolated star – the sun – but it can exist a kind of soil who lives next to star twins?

Alpha Centauri, for example, is the star system closest to us, and it has two main stars orbiting within. Many experts believe that this place in the cosmos can be friendly for life, and some even plan to send a high-speed space sail with picture instruments over there one day, hoping to find such strange characters.

Having information about the binary star’s dynamics before the ambitious journey can help a lot with the mission.

The story of the twisted field

Cox and other scientists stumbled upon the odd binary star siblings after following a hint of a well-known star-forming cloud called L483.

From the beginning, it was nothing special to look at the L483. It was a regular stellar nursery, about 100 times as large as our solar system, which spits out star material with extreme force and helps to give rise to lots of stars. It even had a magnetic field that seemed pretty normal.

“First, it matched what the theory predicts,” Cox said. “But theory can say one thing, and observations can say another.”

Sure enough, zooming in on the L483 told a whole different story.

After using NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, to take a closer look at L483, the team immediately saw that the magnetic field in this stellar nursery was not normally at all. Something strange was going on. Time to dig deeper.

Later, when researchers called a powerful radio telescope called the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array in Chile, or ALMA, the researchers revealed a finding that is probably even more remarkable than the magnetic complication. Hiding right behind one of L483’s newborn stars … there was another baby ball.

“There is recent work to suggest that it is possible to have two stars form far away from each other, and then a star moves in closer to form a binary,” Cox said. “We think that’s what’s going on here.”

But Cox added, “we do not know why one star would move towards another, but we believe that the moving star changed the dynamics of the system to rotate the magnetic field.”

Further observations unlocked some other key findings about the binary star system, such as that they are still really young from our perspective, they are steadily forming and they are about as far apart as our Sun to Pluto. Eventually, Cox said, “with new instruments coming online to detect and investigate new binary systems, we will be able to test these results with a statistical sample.”

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