Astronomers Spotted a New and Intriguing Cataclysmic Variable Star

cataclysmic variable star

Astronomers succeeded in finding a new bright transient event using NASA’s Kepler spacecraft. And after more investigation, the newly discovered transient source proves to be a cataclysmic variable (CV) star.

Cataclysmic variables are defined as binary star systems comprising a white dwarf and a normal star companion. They periodically grow in brightness by a large factor. Later, they reach a quiescent state. 

The recent binaries have been spotted in various environments, such as the core of the Milky Way, the solar neighborhood, and within open and globular clumps. Here is what you need to know.

Newly Discovered Cataclysmic Variable Examined

In cataclysmic variables, mass transfer from the companion star sometimes appears through an accretion disk close to the white dwarf. In other cases, the disk’s thermal instability produces a blast known as dwarf nova (DN). CVs that experience longer and brighter explosions, or super blasts are classified as SU Ursa Majoris (SU UMa). 

WZ Saggittae stars (WZ Sge) is a subclass of SU UMa CVs. They are apart from other SU UMa DN systems by massive amplitude blasts, a late-time re-brightening event at the end of a super blast, and double-peak variations in their light curves (early superhumps). 

The discovery of a new WZ Sge CV is now reported by a team of astronomers led by Ryan Ridden-Harper from the Australian National University (ANU). The detection was realized using data from Kepler’s prolonged mission dubbed K2, during its Campaign 11 (C11). 

“Our new CV is the first WZ Sge type system to be observed with the high cadence and continuous monitoring of Kepler,” stated the astronomers.  

The newly spotted CV received designation KSN: BS-C11a. K2 observations indicate KSN: BS-C11a is a bright transient that increased in brightness by 8.0 mad in almost one day. And then it faded slowly over a month. 

The team of astronomers stated that the results of K2 investigations show that KSN: BS-C11a is indeed WZ Sge CV, the first one of this kind spotted by Kepler during a DN event. 

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *