A strange new type of star that scientists call an “old smoker” has been discovered after years of astronomical research.
According to four different recently published studies. Royal Astronomical Society Monthly Noticesthese recently discovered stars are essentially very large and very old stars that are emitting what looks like smoke and dust after decades of inactivity.
These stars were discovered using a powerful giant telescope deep in the mountains of Chile. Philip Lucas, lead author of one study and co-author of three others, said that so far scientists are not entirely sure what causes this effect in older smokers. He said he didn't know.
“Everything we've been able to learn about them suggests that this is a case of stars spewing smoke, for reasons we don't fully understand either,” Lucas said. he said. “Whether these stars are protostars that have started erupting, are recovering from a dip in brightness caused by a disk or dust shell in front of the star, or are older stars that are ejecting material in their later stages. We didn't know if it was a giant star in their life,'' Lucas said.
Initially, research focused on finding newborn stars, which were often obscured by dust and gas. For this reason, his VISTA (Visible Infrared Survey Telescope) in Chile, which can observe infrared light, was used to scan the sky for stars that cannot be seen with other telescopes. Over time, these newborn stars can help form new solar systems, as explained by Dr. Zhen Guo, a Fondesite postdoctoral fellow at Chile's Valparaíso University and lead author of the two studies. is common.
“Our main objective was to find newborn stars, also called protostars, which are rarely seen while undergoing large explosions that last for months, years, or even decades. '' Guo said. “These explosions occur within the slowly rotating disk of material that is forming the new solar system. They help the newborn star in the center grow, but they make planet formation difficult. “We still don't know why the disk becomes unstable like this,” Guo said.
Old smoker stars are a type of red giant star. A red giant star is essentially a star that has reached the end of its lifespan, meaning it has run out of hydrogen fuel and is, in a sense, “dead.” This often causes intense bursts of energy from the star for a while. According to , our own sun will experience this some day in the distant future, swallowing some of the inner planets in its death process. NASAHowever, when this happens, the fate of the planet remains relatively uncertain. Fortunately, it takes billions of years for this to happen, so by then it's likely to be someone else's problem.
The team of scientists involved in these studies discovered several red giant stars (21 to be exact) that look a little different from those discovered in the past. They selected seven of these stars to focus on and noticed unusual features that baffled them. Most noticeable is the smoke and dust they seem to emit, which is why they have come to receive the nickname “old smokers.”
“These aging stars sit quietly for years or decades, and then they let out smoke in a completely unexpected way,” said Dr. Study co-author Dante Miniti said: Press release: “For several years it appears very dimly red, and sometimes it can't be seen at all.”
Most of the stars the team studied were found at or near the Milky Way's center, known as the innermost nuclear disk. Lucas explained that these newly discovered stars could potentially play a role in how elements are distributed throughout the galaxy.
“Material ejected from old stars plays an important role in the life cycle of elements and helps form the next generation of stars and planets,” Lucas said. “This was thought to occur mainly in a well-studied type of star called a Mira variable star. But the discovery of a new type of star that throws off material is a new type of star that can be found in metal-rich nuclear disks or in other galaxies. This may have broader implications for the diffusion of heavy elements in this region.”