Aeberhard Svendsen, Pennsylvania: Star evolution

Written by by Staff Writer Covid-19 is believed to be among the strongest known geosynchronous binary star systems, adding a new layer of complexity to the astronomical research community’s understanding of how star systems…

Aeberhard Svendsen, Pennsylvania: Star evolution

Written by by Staff Writer

Covid-19 is believed to be among the strongest known geosynchronous binary star systems, adding a new layer of complexity to the astronomical research community’s understanding of how star systems evolve.

The star’s highly elliptical orbit raises the possibility that it may be in the first phase of its life and evolving more rapidly than other stars.

Since 2015, some 70 astronomers have been scouring 4,480 square miles of open space in the Canadian high Arctic and along Canada’s northern border for glancing glances of the binary system.

“Covid-19 could very well be our signature system,” lead scientist Markus Schnellmann of Germany’s Grenoble Observatory told CNN.

3 things to know about star Covid-19

1. It was first identified in 1984

Dr Michael Whitmore, an astronomer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, presented the intriguing findings in 1984. At the time, it was the biggest known star system that had no transits known to astronomers.

2. Its shape is extremely distinctive

The high trajectory of these telescopes suggests that Covid-19 is unique in terms of its extreme density, gravitational pull, and elongated path. “The path is also larger than those seen in other stars,” explains Dr Kevin Trimble, a scientist at the UK’s Royal Observatory Greenwich.

3. Infrared observations are particularly useful

Like many binary systems, Covid-19 is made up of a binary star pair. They are orbiting each other roughly once every 18 hours. The excitement, however, lies in the star’s rapid spin, which slightly exceeds its companion’s rotation.

“At the lowest infrared wavelengths, we can actually observe the instability of the system and how it’s reacting to the simultaneous rotation,” he adds.

The observational data are helping Schnellmann and his colleagues to determine more about the tidal interactions between the pair and the planet.

“We know from some work on the companion planet that it’s rocky, a type of planet that comes in the ranges of small and medium sized moons,” says Schnellmann.

“We know a lot about the planetary system at a distance from its star, but at the surface we can’t yet detect surface features. We’re continuing to look for surface features there.”

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