Thursday, August 16, 2012

Vampire Stars

No, it is not the cast of True Blood taking over Hollywood Blvd.

Vampire stars are very massive stars members of a binary system and get their name from the larger sucking gas from the smaller of the two. The two stars are located closer than most stars to each other and actually occur far more frequently than at first thought. As many as seventy-five percent of massive stars are involved in this sort of relationship but in the end die a violent end.

But fear not, their end is a new beginning. They usually end their lives with a big bang that sends out heavy elements throughout the universe. The building blocks of life exist in what is spread through space. The winds and shocks experienced from their Supernova end can lead to either increased growth of new stars or halt the formation process.

The bigger of the companion stars sucks the Hydrogen from the smaller thereby shortening its life while gaining a spare lifetime for itself. The victim star is left with the exposed core of a much younger star which may have given earlier researchers mistaken ideas of the universe and the age of the stars within them.

Researchers’ knowledge of the galaxies far, far away is based on the light that reaches their telescopes. As telescopes get more powerful and we have a presence out in space be it manned(such as the ISS) or unmanned(such as Keppler), we have more observational knowledge. This new observational knowledge gives a whole new view on what we are looking for and what it might mean. The major lesson here should be easy on the assumptions!

Guessing the age of the universe is just that, a guess. She could be a Vampire that is as old as time or a new born of a mere billion or two. The fact is we know less than we think.

Perhaps we should enjoy the view. It may never be as beautiful to us as right now….Vampire Stars, cool right?

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