Study Finds More Vampire Stars Than Expected

By Mack Rawden 2012-07-27 10:24:54
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Massive O stars might account for less than one percent of all total stars in the galaxy, but it seems most of those that do exist have very turbulent relationships with their neighbor. Scientists in Chile have spent the past few years studying the very bright and very hot phenomena, and they’ve found almost three-quarters are involved in vampire-like relationships in which they’re either sucking gas from their orbital partner or having gas sucked by their orbital partner.

Astronomers have been aware of the so-called vampire stars for awhile now, but they were once thought to be relatively rare. According to Space.com, if the new study holds up, it will complexly change the way we think about O stars.

Here’s what one of the study’s co-authors Selma de Mink had to say…
"We already knew that massive stars are very often in binaries. What is very surprising to us is that they're so close, and such a large fraction is interacting. If a star has a companion so close next to it, it will have a very different evolutionary path. Before, this was very complicated for us to model, so we were hoping it was a minority of stars. But, if 70 percent of massive stars are behaving like this, we really need to change how we view these stars."

While these vampire-like relationships greatly affect the two stars involved, the process is also incredibly important for the universe as a whole. O stars end their lives via massive explosions that disseminate heavy elements throughout the universe. Those elements are what make life possible, and by understanding how the O stars gain and lose gas, we can better understand the building blocks of life.
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