Strange New Lopsided Star with Asymmetrical Pulsing!

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Astronomers Looked For Years, Now They’ve Found Their New Lopsided Star!

For decades, astrophysicists have looked for a type of star they reasoned to exist, but couldn’t find. Now, they’ve discovered HD74423 (sexy name, I know). The new lopsided star features a teardrop shape and an asymmetrical, one-sided pulse pattern. As such, there exists mirth and merriment across the astrophysical realm. In fact, scientists in button-down shirts and sensible loafers everywhere raise their glasses and shout “Huzzah!”

Apart from its sheer significance, the new lopsided star’s discovery serves as a prime example of how citizen scientists and amateur astronomers can actually help NASA make new discoveries. All around the world, NASA and other space agencies make their data public, and citizens use it to make their own contributions. 

In HD74423’s case, citizen astronomers used data from TESS, NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, to detect it. When they analyzed the data, they determined the star to have around 1.7 times the mass of our sun. 

They also found that the odd, one-sided pulsing is caused by a smaller star, not an exoplanet. Even though TESS exists to find exoplanets, it also proves useful in studying other orbital patterns. 

So How Does this New Lopsided Star Work?

Don Kurtz, a study co-author, and astronomer at the University of Central Lancashire (UK) remarked, “I’ve been looking for a star like this for nearly 40 years, and now we have finally found one,” in a statement from the University of Sydney (AU). 

It turns out that the reason for the one-sided pulsing is that an exoplanet is not orbiting HD74423. Nope. It’s a red dwarf star, instead. This makes the new lopsided star part of a cooky binary system. See, the red dwarf is fairly massive, and it zips around the larger star every two days. That type of gravitational interaction pulls the surface of the larger star into a teardrop shape, allowing astronomers to only observe pulses on one side. 

Here’s a short animation of how scientists think it works:

The wealth of information given to us by TESS, along with the cooperation of citizen and amateur astronomers the world over promises to reveal some truly exciting discoveries in the near future. In fact, in the past few weeks alone, the sheer volume of new exoplanets to study could stagger most people. Add to that the fact that next year we’ll have even more detailed data from the James Webb Space Telescope, and it’s easy to imagine our knowledge of exoplanets and binary systems growing by leaps and bounds over the next decade. 

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Brandon Humphreys

Brandon Humphreys

I'm a wizard. I write stuff and it goes from my head into yours - Magic! Apart from that, I am the Senior Editor for Space Porn, a veteran, a rock guitarist, and a teacher.

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