For the first time, an “abstract and pulsating core of a massive star” has been detected

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Three researchers from the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, the University of Innsbruck and the University of Geneva, respectively, have discovered the “barred and pulsating core of a massive star” for the first time. In their paper published in the magazine natural astronomyAndreas Irrgang, Norbert Przybilla and Georges Meynet, describe the unique thing and the work they did in verifying its composition.

Stellar cores, as their name suggests, are the innermost parts of stars. Most often, these cores are covered by what astronomers call their “opaque envelope”. The theory suggested that such nuclei could appear without their shell if conditions existed leading to their removal. But so far, this has never been noticed.

In their paper, the researchers write that their discovery of what was thought to be an ordinary normal star, called γ Columbae, was merely a “coincidence.” They were looking at a group of stars and found that their data indicated that one of them was unusual. This led them to take a closer look at the spectrum of light emitted by the star, and to discover evidence of a missing envelope.

For such a thing to exist, the researchers noted, something must have stripped the mantle of an ordinary star, leaving behind its core. It would have left the object much smaller. They estimate that the star γ Columbae was about 12 times the mass of the Sun before it lost its atmosphere – it is now five times the size of the Sun.

The researchers also noted that the discovery of the unique object was really a matter of chance – they pointed out that such an object wouldn’t survive as a bare core for very long – perhaps only 10,000 years or so, a true blink of an eye in astronomical terms. They also note that previous research indicates that before stripping it down, γColumbian was likely an ordinary massive star that likely ran out of hydrogen.

It would have forced its envelope to expand, possibly pulling out a companion star, which would have ejected the envelope. They note that as of now, the object is burning helium, but at some point, it will start fusing heavier elements until it explodes as a primary supernova, then becomes a neutron star.

more information:
Andreas Irrgang et al, γ Columbae as a recently abstracted pulsar core of a massive star, natural astronomy (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41550-022-01809-6

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