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A peculiar stellar outburst.

A peculiar stellar outburst

New observations of a bright star designated MWC560--first listed in the Mount Wilson star catalog nearly 50 years ago but never studied in detail now--reveal an unusual pattern of brightening, apparently caused by a rapid but erratic ejection of gas from the system. Spectroscopic evidence obtained by Bulgarian astronomers and described in the Aug. 16 NATURE suggests the presence of a red giant star accompanied by a compact white dwarf star. The system's light output varies erratically from day to day and year to year, indicating that gas may be passing from the red giant to a ring of material surrounding the white dwarf--a phenomenon seen in what are called symbiotic systems. However, the astronomers also detect gas leaving the system at highly variable velocities--with peak velocities much higher than those encountered in typical symbiotic systems or even in nova outbursts. Why MWC560 should be so different remains a mystery.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 1, 1990
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