Astronomers study stellar 'vampirism'

BOLOGNA, Italy, Oct. 2 (UPI) -- Italian astronomers say they've found possible proof of stellar "vampirism" involving mass transfer as the origin of some blue straggler stars.

The astronomers say they have found hot, bright and apparently young stars in the globular cluster 47 Tucanae that present less carbon and oxygen than the majority of their sisters. That, say the astronomers, indicates those stars likely formed by taking material from another star.


"This is the first detection of a chemical signature clearly pointing to a specific scenario to form so-called 'Blue straggler stars' in a globular cluster," said Francesco Ferraro of Bologna (Italy) University and lead-author of the paper presenting the results.

Blue stragglers are unexpectedly young-looking stars found in stellar aggregates, such as globular clusters, which are known to be made up of old stars. To date, the formation mechanisms of blue stragglers are still a mystery.

"Our discovery is therefore a fundamental step toward the solution of the long-standing mystery of blue straggler formation in globular clusters," said Ferraro.

The study that involved use of the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope in Chile appears in the Aug. 10 issue of the Astrophysical Journal.


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