ESO: White dwarf heats up red dwarf with electron beam

Today ESO revealed a new type of exotic binary stars: A red dwarf that is heated by a magnetised white dwarf - It's like a lash punching every 1.97 Minutes at the poor red dwarf. The discovery was rewarded with a publication in Nature1.

The white dwarf is for some reasons highly magnetised and can therefore accelerate electrons to relativistic velocities ("almost lightspeed") - These display a huge energy flow that can heat up the nearby red dwarf every half spinning time.

This artist’s impression shows the strange object AR Scorpii. In this unique double star a rapidly spinning white dwarf star (right) powers electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star (left) and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the ultraviolet to radio.
This artist’s impression shows the strange object AR Scorpii. In this unique double star a rapidly spinning white dwarf star (right) powers electrons up to almost the speed of light. These high energy particles release blasts of radiation that lash the companion red dwarf star (left) and cause the entire system to pulse dramatically every 1.97 minutes with radiation ranging from the ultraviolet to radio. Credits: ESO

The star system has already been found 40 years ago but was mistakenly falsely categorised as variable single star. Amateur-astronomers found peculiarities and follow-up professional observations revealed the true nature of the object.

Details can be found on the ESO page. An because it's beautiful, I also link the video to the artist impression here.

1 "A radio pulsing white dwarf binary star" - T. Marsh et al., to appear in the journal Nature on 28 July 2016.

Heidelberg - Gamma 2016 conference

Heidelberg_Trees
A city in the middle of woods

A city in the middle of the woods. That’s my impression about Heidelberg 🙂

I’ve been there for about a week for the Gamma 2016 conference – Maybe one of the most important conferences in the lifespan of my PhD thesis.

Going to conferences is hard work – They ware in the famous city halls, and that;s also the place where I’ve spend most of the time.

Apart from a half afternoon I’ve been entirely busy the whole week, therefore I had not the camera with me – so here’s the only picture that I made with my smartphone

 

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Impression - Heidelberg from the castle's garden

A small note on the conference

The conference itself was very good frequented, every one of the latest gamma-ray experiment and mission was there

And also some gamma-related experiments, that are not directly connected

... and some more 🙂

I was really impressed by the significance maps of HAWK. The experiment at a Mexican volcano runs for about a year now and has already some nice benchmark results to show. Impressive – let’s see how far they come within the next years.

H.E.S.S. showed that CT5 is working and we are now in the H.E.S.S. II phase, and FERMI reflected also about the famous FERMI-Bubbles. This are just some topics of the conference, the amount of new things was overwhelming and I will need some time to reflect about everything I’ve learned.

Stay in touch, there are lots of new things on the way from the Gamma-ray sky!

Lots of question remain unanswered, the quest of understanding our cosmos continues. We have not yet seen any signatures of Dark Matter, although it must be most certainly there, the nature of cosmic rays is still not fully understood and the diffuse emission in the Milky Way (topic of my PhD thesis) is also a huge construction site. The outlook on the performance of the CTA Observatory (Cherenkov telescope array) is exciting, and will bring new insights in the nature of cosmological effects and objects.

So,Heidelberg was nice, the conference was very fruitful but now I’m glad that I can go back home 🙂

It will take me some weeks to cover all the impressions of this week …

Greetings,
Phoenix