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Connie striptease story |  Press Portal

Connie striptease story | Press Portal

Swiss National Fund / Swiss National Funds

Bern (ots)

With the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation, researchers are looking into the special properties of the star Gamma Columbae. Their hypothesis: it belongs to a double star and has lost its shell.

Despite its brightness and visible to the naked eye, it received little scientific attention until recently: Gamma Columbay, a star in the constellation Dove, located about 900 light-years from Earth. Now his dark past has been revealed. Shrek’s heart formed in an ancient duo, he lost his shell when he devoured his counterpart. This discovery was recently reported in the journal Nature Astronomy

An international team of researchers included astrophysicist George Mina. He is a professor at the University of Geneva and is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF).

Interest in this star arose more or less by chance: researchers noticed that its surface is significantly different from stars of similar mass. “This chemical composition is actually expected in the central region of stars more than three to four times their masses, where nuclear reactions change the composition of matter,” George Minnett explains. So he went in search of an explanation.

Meynet and his team simulated the star’s evolution, giving it an initial mass three times greater in their model and then letting it lose its outer shell. The result of this simulation was consistent with their observations and suggested that Gamma Columbae could be the exposed core of an already larger star. The research group suspects that Gamma Columbae belongs to a binary star system and revolves around another star around a common center of gravity. George Minnett explains: “We assume he devoured his opponent. That could have led to strong reactions, specifically the fall of his shell.”

The eruption is estimated within one million to two million years

Based on the specific composition, it can be assumed that Gamma Columbae has reached about 90 percent of its age, which is estimated to be about ten million years. It must remain less than two million years before it explodes. “So they are in a very short evolution stage that can only be observed very rarely,” says Georges Mina, who now has a study object with which he can examine the past and future of binary stars in detail. It is not yet clear whether these stars are really rare or if they are still difficult to find. However, revealing the properties of gamma columbae shows that an untold story may lie behind a star that has long been open to observation. This gives hope that other stars will soon reveal a surprising past.

Irrgang A, Przybilla N, Meynet G: g Columbae: the recently stripped pulsating core of a massive star. Natural Astronomy (2022).


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This research work was supported by the SNSF with the Project Funding Tool. Scholars who receive a grant can independently carry out a research project on a topic of their choice. ————————— The text of this media release, download image, and more information are available at


From the Swiss National Science Foundation.

Media contact: Georges Minette, University of Geneva; Phone: +41 22379 22 05; Email: [email protected]