Austrian astronomer discovers two variable stars


An Austrian amateur astronomer has discovered two previously unknown ‘variable stars’ during his search for comets. Michael Jäger, the chairman of the Martinsberg Astronomical Center (Lower Austria), was able to detect two of these special stars that abruptly increase their brightness for a short time. In both cases these are so-called red dwarfs.

Jäger, who discovered comet 290P/Jäger in 1998, found the variable stars while observing comets on November 18, 2023 in the constellation Arrow and on January 12 in the constellation Gemini. As Jäger explained to the APA, the star discovered in November has already been included in the “International Variable Star Index,” and the second should follow in the near future.

Red dwarfs are the most common type of sun in the Milky Way; “About 85 percent of all suns are red dwarfs,” says Jäger. At the same time, these are the smallest stars, in the center of which nuclear fusion takes place only very slowly. That is why red dwarfs are so faint that they cannot be seen with the naked eye from Earth.

The brightness increases significantly within minutes
Nevertheless, a subgroup of red dwarfs, the ‘flare stars’ (type UV-Ceti), of which only about 1,600 are known so far, are characterized by flares that are 10,000 times stronger than the strongest ever at the Sun’s proven eruption. According to Jäger, this means that they “increase their brightness 20,000 times within a minute, and after a few minutes the spectacle is over.”

Such an increase in brightness is also expected for the star T Coronae Borealis in April. This well-known ‘variable’ is not a red dwarf, but a ‘white dwarf’, the last stage of a gigantic sun. T Coronae Borealis will then shine as brightly as the North Star for about a week; It is found in the Northern Crown constellation.

Astronomical Center offers special tours
When the time comes, the Martinsberg Astronomical Center (AZM) in the Waldviertel will offer a special tour to observe the “changeable”. You can also look for Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, which is currently visible in the evening sky but can only be seen with a telescope.

Source: Krone


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