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Sun Jun 21, 2020, 07:36 PM

Huge magnetic spots may explain weird light patterns of super-hot stars

By Meghan Bartels 10 days ago

Even stars aren't immune to spotty conditions, new research suggests.

Scientists were studying a class of fairly small, unusually hot stars that have very little hydrogen. Astronomers are interested in studying these objects because when these stars run out of fuel, something strange happens: instead of turning into red giants as most smaller stars do, they become white dwarfs, a type of stellar remnant.

"These hot and small stars are special because we know they will bypass one of the final phases in the life of a typical star and will die prematurely," Yazan Momany, lead author on the new research and an astronomer at the INAF Astronomical Observatory of Padua in Italy, said in a statement released by the European Southern Observatory, which runs the observatories used in this research.

(Image credit: ESO/L. Calšada, INAF-Padua/S. Zaggia)

In particular, Momany and his colleagues focused on small hot stars found in dense clumps called globular clusters. In these neighborhoods, the scientists realized, the stars showed a weird pattern, with many of this class of star varying cyclically in brightness over time, dimming and brightening repeatedly.


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