MAGIC telescopes record the record-breaking outburst of a new star in a binary system

MAGIC is a system of two ground-based gamma-ray telescopes at the Roque de los Muchachos observatory on the island of La Palma.

The instruments detect Cherenkov radiation caused by high-energy gamma rays. During the last explosion of the new RS Ophiuchus in 2021, telescopes recorded gamma rays with a power of 250 GeV.

According to researchers from the Institute of PhysicsSocieties of Max Planck, this is one of the highest energies that has ever been recorded in the new: the gamma radiation from RS Ophiuchus was about 100 billion times more powerful than visible light.

The study showed that after the explosion inin the stellar wind of the red giant and in the interstellar medium surrounding the binary system, many shock fronts have formed. According to astrophysicists, these shock waves became natural particle accelerators, accelerating them almost to the speed of light. Scientists believe that the source of gamma radiation during the explosion of the new with a high degree of probability were accelerated protons.

“This means that outbreaks of new ones are one of thepossible sources of cosmic radiation, says David Green, an astrophysicist and co-author of the study. “However, they tend to play the role of local heroes. This means that they contribute to cosmic radiation only in their immediate vicinity.”

RS Ophiuchi - a double system of redgiant and a white dwarf revolving around it, located at a distance of about 5 thousand light years from the Sun. A dying large star gradually loses hydrogen, which is picked up by a small and dense dwarf and forms an accretion disk around it.

According to the researchers, at a certain stageredistribution of matter in the giant-dwarf pair, the temperature and pressure in the disk reach critical values. This results in a powerful thermonuclear explosion. The white dwarf is freed from excess matter, after which history repeats itself.

Explosions in RS Ophiuchus occur every 15–20 years. The last outbreaks of the new scientists recorded in 1967, 1985, 2006 and 2021.

Cover image:, MPP, Max Planck Society

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