Scientists just found an intruder in this star system

The Chilean ALMA telescope has just detected an “intruder” within a protoplanetary disk.

The constellation Canis Major may be less known to the general public than its neighbor the Big Dipper, but it is nevertheless the target of many amateur astronomers. Indeed, it contains within it the star Sirius, which is none other than the brightest point of the night sky (among the stars, the Moon is an exception).

But while amateurs point their telescopes in the direction of this star, professional astronomers look slightly off in an intriguing binary system. The first point of interest of Z Canis Major (Z CMa) is that the system is only 300,000 old, so it’s a few days old baby across the universe.

“It’s as sudden as lightning”

But other very interesting news concerning this system, the scientists believe to have found an intruder there. Far from being a part of “Where’s Wally,” star system intruders like this are actually quite common in computer simulations, but we’ve never really seen one before.

Rubong Duong, a professor at the University of Victoria in Canada and principal investigator in this study, explains that their discovery comes down to “photographing lightning striking a tree. » As the study explains, “intruders” are usually smaller stars that are born not far from a system.

A passage that leaves traces

These will then approach because of gravity of the most massive star, and projections from their disc can pass through the protoplanetary discs of other stars, causing jets of gas and material in a chaotic pattern. Scientists are now wondering about the question of the long-term impact of the passage of this intruder.

The latter has indeed greatly altered the face of the protoplanetary disk around the star, and its evolution for the next millions of years has been changed in an instant. The objective now is to multiply the observations of protoplanetary systems in order to be able to capture the traces left by the passage of other intruders.

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