Saturday 17 March 2018

Scientists play some snooker with stars

Alistair Keely

Astronomers have discovered an unusual star system which looks like a game of snooker.

Experts from Warwick and Sheffield Universities played a key role in discovering the "snooker-like" star system.

They looked at a binary star system, which consisted of two stars, a red dwarf and a white dwarf, which orbited each other in an incredibly tight orbit, called NN Serpentis.

Astronomers were able to spot a pattern of significant irregularities in the orbit which helped demonstrate that the pattern must be due to the presence of two massive gas planets.

Professor Tom Marsh, from the University of Warwick's Department of Physics, said: "If the two gas planets follow the patterns we see in our own star system of gas giants with dominant yellow or blue colours, then it's hard to escape the image of this system as being like a giant snooker frame with a red ball, two coloured balls, and a dwarf white cue ball."

The full research paper is published in the journal 'Astronomy and Astrophysics'.

Irish Independent

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