Astronomers discover giant blinking star 100 times the size of the sun
The star was observed dimming by 97% before returning to its previous brightness.
An international team of astronomers has observed a giant star ‘VVV-WIT-08’ lurking near the heart of the milky way.
The star is located almost 25,000 light-years away and is believed to belong to a new class of “blinking giant” binary star system.
Observations of the star revealed that over a period of a few hundred days, the enormous star dimmed by 97% and then slowly returned to its previous brightness.
"It's amazing that we just observed a dark, large and elongated object pass between us and the distant star and we can only speculate what its origin is," said Sergey Koposov, an astronomer at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the new study.
When scientists find stars and they aren't sure why they are blinking, they call them “what is this” or “WIT” objects. Their latest discovery bears the name VVV-WIT-08.
The team has speculated that an object passed in front of the star from our view of the universe, causing an appearance of dimming.
Two other blinking stars have also been discovered, VVV-WIT-10 and VVV-WIT-11, and researchers are confident there are more of them to find.
"There are certainly more to be found, but the challenge now is in figuring out what the hidden companions are, and how they came to be surrounded by discs, despite orbiting so far from the giant star," said Leigh Smith, an astronomer at Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy and first author of the study.
A partial solar eclipse, where over a third of the sun will be covered, was visible all over Ireland on Thursday morning.
An annular eclipse takes place when the moon passes in front of the sun but does not block it entirely, resulting in a bright ring of light around the darkened moon – the so-called ‘ring of fire’.