A Tour of RW Aur A

Published by Darron Toy on



since 1937 astronomers have puzzled over the curious variability of a young star named RW or a located about 450 light years from Earth every few decades the stars optical light has faded briefly before brightening again in recent years astronomers have observed the star dimming more frequently and for longer periods using NASA's Chandra x-ray Observatory a team of scientists may have uncovered what caused the Stars most recent dimming event a collision of two infant planetary bodies once the planets were destroyed the debris would have fallen onto the star generating a thick veil of dust and gas this would have temporarily obscured the star's light explaining the dimming astronomers have seen computer simulations have long predicted that planets can fall into a young star the scientists have never observed that before now if this most recent study is correct it would be the first time that astronomers have directly observed a young star swallowing a planet because the X ray has come from the hot outer atmosphere of the star changes in the x-ray spectrum the intensity of x-rays measured at different wavelengths over these three observations were used to probe the density and composition of the absorbing material around the star the team found that the dips in both optical and x-ray light are caused by dense gas obscuring the star's light the observation in 2017 showed strong emission from iron atoms indicating that the disc contained at least 10 times more iron than in the 2013 observation during a bright period the researchers think the excess iron was created when to planetesimals or infant planetary bodies collided if one or both planetary bodies are made partly of iron their smash-up could release a large amount of iron into the Stars disk and temporarily obscure its light as the material falls into the star this discovery gives insight into the processes affecting the development of infant planets undoubtedly astronomers will continue to study this fascinating object with Chandra and other telescopes you


5 Comments

Ruben Santos · May 16, 2019 at 7:11 am

These little vídeos are awesome, wish they would reach a wider audience!!

Robert Daris · May 16, 2019 at 7:11 am

humble pie

OrphanPaper · May 16, 2019 at 7:11 am

smoking to much grass

Roving Punster · May 16, 2019 at 7:11 am

Interesting content. Thank you.

I'd be interested to know how far back anyone has dug into the light curve data from 1937 thru 2013, to see just how many, and strong, events like this most recent one have occurred.

Canal do Mau Hálito · May 16, 2019 at 7:11 am

Interesting!!!!

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