According to researchers, the observed properties of AR Sco –in the constellation of Scorpius— are both mysterious and unique. Astronomers say it is a completely new type of exotic binary star which blasts its neighbouring star with HIGH ENERGY ELECTRONS.
Researchers have known about the star system AR Scorpio for a long time. However, scientists have only just discovered that it is a new type of binary star. It’s a cosmic bully.
The system is composed of a white dwarf that rotates at high speed, driving electrons that are ‘throwing’ beams of radiation to a companion star: a red dwarf. The shooting beams make the entire system dime and shine brightly every 1.97 minutes.
In May of 2015, a group of amateur astronomers from Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom focused on a star that presented different behaviours than astronomers had previously seen.
Now, with the help of a number of ground-based telescopes and space telescopes and a series of follow-up studies conducted by the University of Warwick from the UK, researchers have discovered the true nature of the mysterious system that was misidentified previously.
The AR Scorpii –Ar Sco— star system is located in the constellation of Scorpius some 380 light years from Earth.
It is composed of a fast-spinning white dwarf the size of Earth but with 200,000 times more mass, and a cooler der dwarf with a third of the mass of our sun. Both these stars orbit each other every 3.6 hours.
Lead researcher Tom Marsh of the University of Warwick’s Astrophysics Group commented: “AR Scorpii was discovered over 40 years ago, but its true nature was not suspected until we started observing it in 2015. We realised we were seeing something extraordinary within minutes of starting the observations.”
However, the mysterious star system displays an extremely strange behaviour. The white dwarf of the star system is highly magnetic and has an extremely fast rotation period which accelerates electrons to nearly the speed of light. On their way through space, these high energy particles release radiation in the shape of a beam –eerily similar to the headlights of a car— which eventually smash into the cold red dwarf causing the entire star system to shine and dim every 1.97 minutes.
These highly powerful pulses include radiation ranging from ultraviolet to radio frequencies something that has never before been detected in a star system composed of a white dwarf.
Boris Gänsicke, a co-author of the new study, also at the University of Warwick, concludes: “We’ve known pulsing neutron stars for nearly fifty years, and some theories predicted white dwarfs could show similar behaviour. It’s very exciting that we have discovered such a system, and it has been a fantastic example of amateur astronomers and academics working together.”