Sep 4, 2022

“One of a Kind” Massive Triple Star System Detected

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Earlier this year, researchers revealed the discovery of an extraordinarily compact “one-of-a-kind” system of three stars. A partnership between two young researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen is currently focusing on how this unusual combination of a binary set of stars and a revolving larger star can form.

The star system is made up of a binary set of stars, two stars that orbit each other, and one more massive star that orbits the binary.

“As far as we know, it is the first of its kind ever detected”, Alejandro Vigna-Gomez says. “We know of many tertiary star systems (three star systems), but they are typically significantly less massive. The massive stars in this triple are very close together – it is a compact system. The orbital period of the binary (~1 d) is the same as that of the rotation of Earth (1 day). The combined mass of the two of them is twelve times the mass of our Sun – so rather big stars. The tertiary star is approximately 16 times the mass of our Sun, so even bigger! The inner orbit is circular in shape with close to six revolutions of the tertiary star around the binary per year. Pretty fast, when you consider the size of them – unsurprisingly, the system is very luminous, so at first they were detected as a stellar binary”.

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