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Astronomers Discover a “Shimmering Star” at the Center of the Milky Way

Bipasha Mandal
Bipasha Mandal
Bipasha Mondal is writer at TechGenyz

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Astronomers have discovered a new blinking star in the middle of the Milky Way galaxy, more than 25000 light-years away. The discovery was published in the Monthly Bulletin of the Royal Astronomical Society. The team dubbed the star as VVV-WIT-08 and contended that the star’s diminishing brightness was one of the main reasons why it escaped detection. However, after losing its original brightness, the star has again started to be brighter- this apparently is an unusual occurrence. This has qualified the VVV-WIT-08 to be categorized as a “shimmering giant” binary star system. This newly discovered star might be covered in an opaque disk that makes it invisible.

The discovery was led by Dr. Leigh Smith of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge, in collaboration with scientists from the University of Edinburgh, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Warsaw in Poland, and the Andres Bello University in Chile. VVV-WIT-08 was discovered by the VISTA Variables in the Via Lactea, referred to as VVV project.

The researchers have also pondered unknown dark objects around the newly discovered star, especially because the star is located in a dense area of the Milky Way. However, simulation results have refuted the claim since dark objects surrounding a start inside the Milky Way would be corroborated by the existence of a large number of dark celestial bodies floating around the Milky Way.

This is not the first time that astronomers have discovered a star in a similar fashion. Previously, the superstar Epsilon Aurigae was covered by a dust disk for almost 27 years. The same goes for the star code-named TYC 2505-672-1 which was discovered only a few years ago.

In addition to this new type of shimmering star, the British team also discovered two other similar stars, which may indicate the existence of a new type of “shimmering giant stars”.

The VVV data led to the discovery of the VVV-WIT-08. Still, the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, also known as OGLE, run by the University of Warsaw, also contributed to its discovery.

The discovery of the VVV-WIT-08 confirms that now there are about six potentially similar star systems. One of the researchers from the team revealed that now they will have to figure out what kind of companion stars are hidden and learn something new about how this type of system evolves.


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