Astronomers discover enormous ‘one of a kind’ star system

TIC 470710327 is close to Cassiopeia and has a central star 16 times the mass of our Sun

Adam Smith
Monday 25 July 2022 12:58 BST
(NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Scientists have discovered a ‘one of a kind’ star system containing two binary stars revolving around a larger, central sun.

The system, called TIC 470710327 and located close to the constellation of Cassiopeia, is made up of a main star approximately 16 times the mass of our Sun.

The other two stars - which collectively have 12 times the mass of our Sun – orbit it closely, but at an astonishing speed; the stars orbit the Sun in a single Earth day.

“As far as we know, it is the first of its kind ever detected”, said Alejandro Vigna-Gomez, a postdoctural researcher at the Niels Bohr International Academy.

“We know of many tertiary star systems (three star systems), but they are typically significantly less massive. The massive stars in this triple are very close together – it is a compact system.”

After running 100,000 simulations of the system’s formation there were a number of theories as to how it formed. The largest star could have formed first, but it would have ejected material that would have disrupted the binaries.

It is also possible that the binary and the third star formed separately from each other and eventually encountered and locked in their orbits because of gravity.

However, what researchers believe is most likely is that the system originally had two binary stars, but eventually evolved with two of them merging together.

“There are two ways in which we can prove or disentangle our theory on this formation”, Mr Alejandro explains. ”One is studying the system in detail and the other is to make a statistical analysis on a population of stars.

If we go to the system in detail, we shall have to rely on the expertise of an astronomer. We already have some preliminary observations, but we still need to go through the data, and make sure we are interpreting it well”.

The research has been published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in