LL Pegasi (Pssst! It's a star.)

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LL Pegasi (Pssst! It's a star.)

Post by Gord » Sat Jan 12, 2019 2:42 am

Here's an image to make you wonder:

The star LL Pegasi (also known as AFGL 3068) is actually a binary star system that is cloaked in carbon dust that has been flung off by one of its stars. This dust-flinging star is known as a carbon star, and is an interesting object -- our own sun may become a carbon star later in its life.

There's a lot unknown about this particular pair of stars due to the carbon dust cloud that's obscuring it, and astro-scientists (astronomers, astrophysicists, experts in planetary science, etc.) are still arguing about its true nature. Some classify it as a preplanetary nebula (which would make the star system young, and a planetary system might still be forming or about to start forming), others classify it as an aged star system (long after a planetary system could have formed). (The latter makes more sense to me, but what do I know? Nothing, that's what. I'm 30 years out of date now.)

Anyway, here's a youtube video by Dr. Becky about it that I thought some of you might enjoy. She seems to agree with me (or I guess it's probably the other way around) that LL Pegasi is an older star system. The best part is the image though, and her explanation of why it looks the way it does, why we can even see it at all, and why these systems appear so rare even though we can hypothesise them to be fairly common throughout the galaxy.

(Note that the animation of how the two stars orbit the centre of mass is wrong. That's actually how two stars might orbit a black hole instead. Binary stars would orbit more like this or this. In a binary system, the two stars would have to be moving the same way, clockwise or anticlockwise. But other than that, enjoy the video!)
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