Binary Protostars Revealed as the Source of a Mysterious, Periodic Flash of Light – Gallery

The two protostars orbit close to each other and smash into the surrounding gas cloud

NASA astronomers have used two of their most important observatories, the Spitzer and the Hubble space telescopes, to unravel a mystery, periodic outburst of light coming from an object dubbed LRLL 54361.

Using infrared and visible light data, the astronomers have concluded that the object is made up of a couple of early stars in a binary system.

The two protostars can't be more than a few hundreds of thousands of years old and are in their very early stages.

Every 25.34 days, a bright flash emanates from the object astronomers now believe that the motion of the two protostars causes it.

The two are currently orbiting each other in a very eccentric orbit, coming in very close to one another periodically.

When this happens, gas trapped between the two objects hits one or both the protostars resulting in a surge of radiation, observable in the infrared and visible spectrum.

Binary systems with the stars so close together are very rare and astronomers believe that this is just a temporary phase in the early formation of such a system.


The binary protostars (4 Images)

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