Taiwanese astronomers searched data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s (ESA) XMM-Newton Observatory and observed a small star or white dwarf, destroying what they thought was a nearby star or planet. press release reveals.
The white dwarf star, called KPD 0005 + 5106, is more than 1,300 light-years from Earth. White dwarfs form essentially when a star is approaching its death. As the star consumes its last fuel, it will become smaller and brighter. All this means that the observation of KPD 0005 + 5106 gives a potential look at what the very distant future – approximately 5 billion years from now – might look like on our solar system.
In observations of KPD 0005 + 5106, astronomers from various organizations, including the Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Academia Sinica in Taiwan, found a model for increasing and decreasing the brightness of X-rays. The observation showed that KPD 0005 + 5106 has an orbital neighbor.
“We didn’t know this white dwarf had a satellite before we saw the X-rays.” Yu-Hua Chu, who is leading the study, explained in the statement. “We searched the satellite with optical light telescopes, but saw nothing that meant it was a very dark star, a brown dwarf, or a planet.”
White dwarfs are a window to the past of the universe
In an article published in on Astrophysical Journal, astronomers explain that the object orbiting around KPD 0005 + 5106 is relatively close to 500,000 miles (805,000 kilometers) from the white dwarf – this is approximately one-thirtieth of the distance between Mercury and the Sun. It is said to be so close that it is broken by heat, and is gradually torn by gravitational forces, which means that it may disappear completely in a few hundred years. This is a very small time scale in astronomical terms – white dwarfs, for example, take billions of years to disappear.
Researchers then say they want to conduct more observations to try to understand how the orbital object was located on such a close orbital path. Last month, researchers at the University of Durham in the United Kingdom announced that they had discovered the fastest spinning white dwarf observed ever. This white dwarf also had a close neighbor – a red dwarf star that supplied him with gas, causing it to rotate once every 25 seconds. White dwarfs are one of the oldest objects in the known universe, which means that their observation provides a window into the distant past and can help teach us about the formation of our own solar system.