Shocking! A giant ‘Blinking Star’ found: Researchers

A giant blinking star is found near the center of our Milky way galaxy. The news about the discovery is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

According to the news, an international team of astronomers has spotted the giant ‘blinking’ star more than 25 thousand light years away from Earth. The team has observed the star, named VVV-WIT-08, decreasing in brightness by a factor of 30 so that it nearly disappeared from the sky. It is exceptionally rare for a star to become fainter over a period of several months and then brighten again.

The researchers say they believe that the star may belong to a new class of ‘blinking giant’ binary star system, where a giant star– 100 times larger than the Sun–is eclipsed once every few decades by an as-yet-unseen orbital companion. The companion, which may be another star or a planet, is surrounded by an opaque disc, which covers the giant star, causing it to disappear and reappear in the sky.

The research, which highlighted the ‘blinking’ star, was led by Dr Leigh Smith from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy. Report said he worked with scientists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Warsaw in Poland and Universidad Andres Bello in Chile.

Quoting to a researcher, reports say, ‘It is amazing that we just observed a dark, large and elongated object pass between us and the distant star and we can only speculate what its origin is’.

The astronomers also considered whether some unknown dark object could have simply drifted in front of the giant star by chance as the star is located in a dense region of the Milky Way.

Scientists have known similar another star system for a long time. That is the giant star Epsilon Aurigae, which is partly eclipsed by a huge disc of dust every 27 years but only dims by about 50%.

Likewise, TYC 2505-672-1 is another example of that sort of stars. The star was found a few years ago and holds the current record for the eclipsing binary star system with the longest orbital period–69 years–a record for which VVV-WIT-08 is currently a contender.

On the other hand, the UK-based team has also found two more of these peculiar giant stars in addition to VVV-WIT-08. It is possible that those stars may be a new class of ‘blinking giant’ stars for astronomers to investigate.

  • June 13, 2021
Universe & Existence