Two Stars heading for enormous Catastrophe

VLT finds hottest and most massive touching double star, heading for enormous catastrophe.

An international team of astronomers, using ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VTL), have found the hottest and most massive double star with components so close that they touch each other.

Above: An artist’s impression shows VFTS 352 — the hottest and most massive double star system to date, lie about 160 000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud, where the two components are in contact and sharing material.   Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

The two stars could be heading for a dramatic end, during which they will either coalesce to create a single giant star, or form a binary black hole.

VFTS 352 Two Stars

Such a system is very rare because this phase in the life of the stars is short, making it difficult to catch them in the act. Because the stars are so close together, astronomers think that strong tidal forces lead to enhanced mixing of the material

Location of VFTS 352 in the Large Magellanic CloudLocation of VFTS 352 in the Large Magellanic Cloud.  Credit ESO.

Lead author Leonardo A. Almeida of the University of São Paulo, Brazil, explains:

“The VFTS 352 is the best case yet found for a hot and massive double star that may show this kind of internal mixing. As such it’s a fascinating and important discovery.”

source ESO