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Strobe-Like Flashes in Young Stars Discovered by NASA Telescope

Strobe-Like Flashes in Young Stars Discovered by NASA Telescope

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First Posted: Feb 08, 2013 06:26 AM EST
 Strobe-Like Flashes in Young Stars Discovered By NASA Telescope
NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space telescope have discovered a mysterious object that behaves like a strobe light. (Photo : NASA/ESA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA's Spitzer and Hubble Space telescope have discovered a mysterious object that behaves like a strobe light.

Far away on a protostar, the object designated as LRLL54361 unleashes a burst of light every 25-34 days. This is not the first time that such a phenomenon has been noticed, but it is a powerful outburst.

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LRLL 54361 is a variable object that is inside the star-forming region IC 348. It is located 950 years from Earth. The stars are not more than a few hundred years old.

According to the astronomers, this strobe effect is caused due to the periodic interactions between the newly formed stars that are gravitationally bound to each other. The powerful light is hidden behind a thick disk and a blanket of dust.

The newly discovered infant star offers insights into the early stages of star formation, when heaps of dust and gas are accumulated to form a new binary star.

The astronomers provide an explanation for these bright flashes, stating that these materials are suddenly thrown on the growing stars that are termed as protostars. Every time the stars get close to each other in their orbits, a blast of radiation is set free. They term this phenomenon as pulsed accretion. Such a phenomena till date has been observed when the star matures, but not in its infant stage or with such intensity and regularity.

"This protostar has such large brightness variations with a precise period that it is very difficult to explain," said James Muzerolle of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Md.

The team states this to be a brief transitory period in the birth of a star system. Using other facilities such as European Space Agency's Herschel Space Telescope, the team also plans to continue monitoring LRLL54361.

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