Two "catastrophic" stars revolve around each other every hour and this is not the limit

Approximately half of the stars in the Milky Way are single, like our Sun. The other half revolves around the other

stars, sometimes in incredibly narrow orbits.According to a press release, a team of astronomers, including experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have just discovered a stellar binary - a pair of stars - with such a narrow orbit that they revolve around each other every 51 minutes.

This system is part of a rare class of binariessystems known as cataclysmic variables. In them, one star, similar to the Sun, revolves around a white dwarf - the hot, dense core of a dead star.

Decades ago, astronomers predicted that thesecataclysmic variables must move and move closer and closer together until they form incredibly tight orbits. In the course of new observations, scientists have found direct evidence of a cataclysmic variable in this transitional phase.

They are called so because they emitvariable flashes of light that astronomers thought centuries ago were due to unknown cataclysms or "catastrophes" in space. In fact, the outbursts are due to the fact that the white dwarf slowly accretes or consumes the material of the partner star.

A newly discovered system called ZTFJ1813+4251 has the shortest orbit among cataclysmic systems to date. Astronomers discovered it due to the fact that each of the stars momentarily eclipsed the other. This allowed scientists to take precise measurements of each and run simulations to see how the system would evolve over millions of years.

The simulation showed that the stars are intransition period and that the sun-like star "donated" most of its hydrogen atmosphere to the white dwarf. In about 70 million years, the stars will approach even more. In the near future, they are likely to have an 18-minute orbit. After that, they will eventually expand and disperse.

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