PR Video eso1540b
VLT finds hottest and most massive touching double star
 This star’s name indicates that it was observed as part of the VLT FLAMES Tarantula Survey, which utilised the FLAMES and GIRAFFE instruments on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) to study over 900 stars in the 30 Doradus region of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). The survey has already led to many exciting and important findings including the fastest rotating star (eso1147), and an extremely massive solitary runaway star (eso1117). It is helping to answer many fundamental questions concerning how massive stars are affected by rotation, binarity and the dynamics in dense star clusters.
 This study also used brightness measurements of VFTS 352 over a period of twelve years made as part of the OGLE survey.
 Both components are classed as O-type stars. Such stars are typically between 15 and 80 times more massive than the Sun and can be up to a million times brighter. They are so hot that they shine with a brilliant blue-white light and have surface temperatures over 30 000 degrees Celsius.
 These regions around the stars are known as Roche lobes. In an overcontact binary such as VFTS 352 both stars overfill their Roche lobes.
 Gamma-ray Bursts (GRBs) are bursts of highly energetic gamma rays that are detected by orbiting satellites. They come in two types — short duration (shorter than a few seconds), and long duration (longer than a few seconds). Long-duration GRBs are more common and are thought to mark the deaths of massive stars and be associated with a class of very energetic supernova explosions.
 Predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, gravitational waves are ripples in the fabric of space and time. Significant gravitational waves are generated whenever there are extreme variations of strong gravitational fields with time, such as during the merger of two black holes.
This research was presented in a paper in entitled “Discovery of the massive overcontact binary VFTS 352: Evidence for enhanced internal mixing”, by L. Almeida et al., in the Astrophysical Journal.
The team is composed of L.A. Almeida (Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Instituto de Astronomia, Geofísica e Ciências Atmosféricas, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil), H. Sana (STScI, Baltimore, Maryland, USA; KU Leuven, Belgium), S.E. de Mink (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands), F. Tramper (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands), I. Soszynski (Warsaw University Observatory, Poland), N. Langer (Universität Bonn, Germany), R.H. Barbá (Universidad de La Serena, Chile), M. Cantiello (University of California, Santa Barbara, USA), A. Damineli (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil), A. de Koter (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands; Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), M. Garcia (Centro de Astrobiologa (INTA-CSIC), Spain), G. Gräfener (Armagh Observatory, UK), A. Herrero (Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, Spain; Universidad de La Laguna, Spain), I. Howarth (University College London, UK), J. Maíz Apellániz (Centro de Astrobiologa (INTA-CSIC), Spain), C. Norman (Johns Hopkins University, USA), O.H. Ramírez-Agudelo (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands) and J.S. Vink (Armagh Observatory, UK).
ESO is the foremost intergovernmental astronomy organisation in Europe and the world’s most productive ground-based astronomical observatory by far. It is supported by 16 countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, along with the host state of Chile. ESO carries out an ambitious programme focused on the design, construction and operation of powerful ground-based observing facilities enabling astronomers to make important scientific discoveries. ESO also plays a leading role in promoting and organising cooperation in astronomical research. ESO operates three unique world-class observing sites in Chile: La Silla, Paranal and Chajnantor. At Paranal, ESO operates the Very Large Telescope, the world’s most advanced visible-light astronomical observatory and two survey telescopes. VISTA works in the infrared and is the world’s largest survey telescope and the VLT Survey Telescope is the largest telescope designed to exclusively survey the skies in visible light. ESO is a major partner in ALMA, the largest astronomical project in existence. And on Cerro Armazones, close to Paranal, ESO is building the 39-metre European Extremely Large Telescope, the E-ELT, which will become “the world’s biggest eye on the sky”.
- Research paper published in the Astrophysical Journal
- Freely accessible preprint of the research paper
- Photos of the VLT
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