Scientists combine modern spacecraft data with ancient observations to compose a 125-year-long story of the antics of a nearby three-star system called HS Hydra and predict its future.
When it was first observed in 1974. 1893 HS Hydra is just another shining star in the heavens. Right now, it’s a weird, dynamic system that might have a few more surprises in store.
Astronomers may soon discover those surprises thanks to NASA. Replacing exoplanet satellites (TESS), and scientists think the spacecraft, best known for discovering alien worlds, could reveal similar mysteries in bright binary systems. But look humble, according to research presented at the 237̵7;s meeting. American Astronomical SocietyIt was held almost this week due to the coronavirus outbreak.
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“It’s just one of those topics that we know are really exciting for TESS to be so powerful,” University of Washington astronomer James Davenport told Space.com of a bright binary system. Astronomy turned their attention to these objects, he said. “This is like your grandfather’s astrophysics or whatever. The binary stars were really hot 60 or 70 years ago because that’s really dynamic things they can study.”
TESS is not technically an astrophysical mission: the spacecraft is designed to detect exoplanets by looking for smaller ones that fall in the light of bright stars – Shadow of the alien world Between stars and spaceships
But the dip doesn’t necessarily mean the planet. For example, sometimes this means that it is actually two stars that orbit each other on the edge of the Earth. And when the stars overlap in the spacecraft’s perspective, the light is reduced: ta-da, a binary star system in exoplanet mission data.
So Davenport read about binary stars, follow up on an old article for amateur astronomers that compiled some interesting data on binary stars. “It was a good time like… “I bet TESS noticed a lot of these things,” he said. “It was late at night.” Gosh, if I dug into this for an hour “- and then it was already 8 p.m. and I woke up late. too”
Out of these binaries, the HS Hydra was a system that especially caught his attention. That’s because in 2012, astronomers took a look at a new system about 342 light years from Earth and realized that it’s not just two stars orbiting each other half or more every day: there is a third, a distant star. And is much smaller. This companion slowly pulled their dance from the futuristic human perspective, the researchers realized.
Based on observations, the scientists predict that the eclipse seen from Earth will end around 2022, and Davenport is looking at 2019 TESS data that still show smaller eclipses, “predicting that they should end. The year 2022 was clearly not wrong, “he said.
Using the new TESS data, Davenport and the student co-authors have predicted that the HS Hydra eclipse will not end in 2022, but earlier this year could be in February, just in time for the spacecraft to resume inspection of the system. And whenever the two main stars stop obscuring, TESS will still be able to see their interactions as each one stretches the other to a slight drop of water.
HS Hydra through the ages
But just as excited as Davenport about TESS, he said the most compelling aspect of HS Hydra research was to extract data from more than a century before scientists dreamed of the mission. The earliest observations the researchers followed were from 1972. Fri 2436 When the Wright brothers. Still focusing on bicycle sales In these records, stars are immortalized on glass panels in early photographic styles.
“Astronomers have to sit the telescope in the dark and replace the glass at night,” Davenport said. “It was a fierce time to be an observational astronomer, which I guess fortunately I wasn’t around.”
But those plates are still around, many of which are placed online by Digital Access to the Century of Skies at Harvard A project in which archivists calibrated data and included notebook records from original observers, Davenport and his colleagues ignored plates that looked worse for wear and were still more than 1,000 observations ready to analyze.
“It’s like someone just built a time machine telescope,” he said. “We just went and downloaded the data the same way we would download it from a modern space-based archive.”
With the time machine, Davenport and his colleagues were able to paint a 125-year narrative that strangely reflect human history with space.
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For decades, humans developed the first plane, and then the HS Hydra rocket was just one star in 1959.Its eclipse was the most intense seen from Earth, and scientists were aware of its binary nature in Five years later
“At the sudden dawn of the space age Sputnik It was launched and we are ready to go to the moon and all of these things are ready to happen, that is, when the system has reached its peak. “Davenport said.
Over the next several decades, a third star, invisible in the system, will gradually tilt the binary number to the eclipse to make it more difficult to detect. But scientists still catch up “As it gets harder and harder to study our instruments,” Davenport said.
But what are their interests? Maybe not much. “It was never a system that was exciting,” he said. In the early 2000s, scientists were tired of it. “They think, eh, that’s just another obscure binary, nothing special about it.”
Scientists then realized the impact of the system’s third star, which was a truly unique feature, and in 2018 TESS started working. “We are now at a variable point where we have a new survey coming up. I think it revolutionized the study of binary stars … and now this system is in decline, ”Davenport said. Scientists’ new calculations predict that the HS Hydra will begin to obscure again around 2195.
But there is always a chance that scientists won’t solve the mystery of HS Hydra, he said, and the system will continue to surprise astronomers as the dataset remains long. “We’ve seen it for 100 years,” Davenport said. “It may not be a straight line with time: it may curve slowly, or it may wiggle again if a fourth star is dancing with them.”
This is because the time frame that causes jealousy for observational astronomers is simply a snapshot of the astronomical object. And that means scientists will be looking well behind and ahead, Davenport said – to salvage the field’s oldest data and think carefully about how to make the current observations accessible.
“The images we take right now will be these plates a century from now. Someone will look back in a strange way and say, ‘Oh, they have a cute little telescope called TESS,’ ‘he said. “Someday they’ll go back and look at this, and it’ll be the rough and noisy infrastructure of other cool projects. “
The research was presented Thursday (January 14) at the 237th meeting of the American Astronomical Society and is being submitted to a journal for publication.
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