Tear-Shaped Star Discovered By Amateur Astronomers

A tear-shaped star has been discovered by amateur astronomers, and it’s believed to be the first of its kind.

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NASA
NASA

The unusual star is thought to be 1,500 light-years from Earth and around 1.7 times the mass of the sun.

Speaking of the discovery, study co-author and postdoctoral researcher Simon Murphy from the Sydney Institute for Astronomy at the University of Sydney explained why the star was so notable.

He told CNN:

What first caught my attention was the fact it was a chemically peculiar star.

Stars like this are usually fairly rich with metals — but this is metal poor, making it a rare type of hot star.

The strange, teardrop shape is actually because of the star ‘pulsating’, with the shape being caused by its ‘heartbeat blinking at us’ from millions of miles away.

Gabriel Perez Diaz/Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands
Gabriel Perez Diaz/Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands

While all stars apparently pulsate, typically you can see it doing so on all sides, therefore keeping it’s traditional, round shape. This star’s supposed ‘heartbeat’ can only be seen from one side though, causing the unique shape.

Don Kurtz, study co-author and inaugural Hunstead Distinguished Visitor at the University of Sydney from the University of Central Lancashire in Britain added:

We’ve known theoretically that stars like this should exist since the 1980s. I’ve been looking for a star like this for nearly 40 years and now we have finally found one.

The discovery was made using NASA’s latest planet-hunting satellite, TESS.

TESS’s mission began back in 2018 after the Kepler satellite ended its mission. The newer satellite is able to survey an area 400 times larger than what Kepler observed – which is evidently helping astronomers discover new things like the HD74423.

NASA
NASA

Gerald Handler, lead study author, and professor at the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Centre in Poland spoke about the impact the TESS satellite had on discovering the new star.

He said: 

The exquisite data from the TESS satellite meant that we could observe variations in brightness due to the gravitational distortion of the star as well as the pulsations.

Those working on the study were able to work out the source of the pulsation because the star apparently varied in observations based on the fluctuations in its brightness, the angle it was at and how it was oriented in its binary system.

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