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Fraser
2005-Aug-29, 04:42 PM
SUMMARY: Amateur astronomers are helping unravel mysteries about about a strange binary star system. Even though space and ground-based observatories will be observing the cataclysmic variable star AE Aqr, astronomers are calling on amateurs to make additional observations as well. AE Aqr consists of a red dwarf feeding material to a white dwarf companion star. Instead of striking the white dwarf, this material is flung out of the system by the star's intense magnetic field. Amateurs are being asked to observe this object every night until September 3.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/amatuers_help_astronomers_observe_aeaqr.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

cran
2005-Aug-30, 12:37 AM
huh? where are all the comments, then? :unsure:
1. I think it's great that a world-wide call to observe this uncommon 'partnership' can even be made... a coordinated effort around the world to bring about a 24 hour continuous observation, and including all the amateur astronomers that can be reached? Priceless! :D

2. I've never heard of this kind of binary situation before ... a red dwarf 'giving it's all' and the white dwarf that 'doesn't want to know'... does beg the question of how many similar binaries might be out there but not so obvious because the little red star 'that no longer could' has grown too small/dim to behave like a star ... more like a superjupiter... and a 'bulimic' white dwarf that simply can't keep its food? :huh:

So go! observe! measure! analyse! facts... give me facts! :D

Greg
2005-Aug-30, 04:52 AM
The fact that the white dwarf is rapidly spinning suggests that it has an accretion disc and has been accreting matter. It it probably well on its way to becoming a type Ia supernova.

antoniseb
2005-Aug-30, 02:54 PM
Originally posted by Greg@Aug 30 2005, 04:52 AM
It it probably well on its way to becoming a type Ia supernova.
Perhaps, but with a Red Dwarf as its partner, and most of the matter being ejected away, I'm not sure it is likely that this will become a type 1a supernova. I've done a quick look at the online literature, and can't find anything specific about the mass of the two stars in the system, though there is plenty of material estimating how much mass is being transfered and ejected. I suspect that if I wanted to bother, there is enough information to calculate it. The two stars orbit each other every 9.88 hours. The white dwarf spins once every 33 seconds.