Gaia Satellite Spotted the First Symbiotic Star: What Should You Know

gaya satellite

A team of astronomers reported that the transient Gaia18aen spotted by ESA’s Gaia spacecraft is actually a symbiotic star. The discovery is genuinely astonishing, making it the first symbiotic star found by this astrometric device. 

The team assumed that symbiotic stars, which are one the most extensive interacting binaries, display tense, periodic changes in their light spectra because one of the pairs is a warm, tiny star. The other, however, is a cool giant.

Generally, such systems are significant for astronomers investigating aspects of stellar development. Here is what you need to know.

New Study Details

WRAY 15-136, also dubbed AT 2018id, was spotted and labeledas an emission line star in 1966. Back in January 2018, Gaia captured a blast of this star, which finally became Gaia18aen.

Further observations show that the star began to boost its brightness in November and December 2017. Then, it continued to brighten in the coming weeks. One research suggested that it is a nova, based on the spectrum collected by ESO’s VLT in Chile. 

Now, extra observations of Gaia18aen realized by a team of astronomers supervised by Jaroslav Merc of Charles University in Prague, stated that the object is a symbiotic star. 

The Team’s Findings

The team utilized the VLT, the Liverpool Telescope at La Palma, Spain, and data from LCO 0.4-m, PROMPT 0.6-m, PIRATE robotic telescope, and Terskol 0.6-m. 

The study discovered that Gaia18aen is a non-dusty S-type symbiotic star, approximately 19,500 light-years away, comprising a hot white dwarf and an intriguing M giant almost 230 times larger than the Sun. The giant star has an adequatetemperature of around 3,500K and a somehow super-solar metallicity. 

Also, its brightness is at a level of approximately 7,400 solar luminosities, being one of the most luminous symbiotic giants. 

The team concluded that the light curves of Gaia18aen exhibit scatter, which might be triggered by stellar pulsations of the giant star with between 50 and 200 days. More investigations are still required.

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