Vampire stars are more common than astronomers previously thought according to a new study.
Vampire stars are Type O stars in a binary system that suck gas from their companion stars to prolong their own life. Type O stars are the hottest type of star and are extremely bright, appearing bluish in color.
According to astronomers, these stars have a huge impact on galaxy evolution. Whenever one of these massive stars dies, it creates a violent explosion that is capable of being seen throughout most of the universe, reports The Christian Post, during which heavy elements essential for life are produced. Study lead author Hugues Sana, of the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, said in a statement:
“These stars are absolute behemoths. They have 15 or more times the mass of our sun and can be up to a million times brighter. These stars are so hot that they shine with a brilliant blue-white light and have surface temperatures over 30,000 degrees Celsius.”
According to a recent study done by astronomers using the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile, more than 70 percent of Type O stars studied made up a binary system in which two stars orbit one another, reports TG Daily. This finding far exceeded the previous expectations believed by astronomers, even more surprising was the finding that majority of these binary system pairings had a vampire star leeching the life force (gas) of its companion star. Noted co-author of the study Selma de Mink:
“The life of a star is greatly affected if it exists alongside another star. If two stars orbit very close to each other they may eventually merge. But even if they don’t, one star will often pull matter off the surface of its neighbour.”
De Mink states that she was surprised by the amount of binary systems with “vampire” stars discovered, notes The Huffington Post. Mink explained:
“We already knew that massive stars are very often in binaries. What is very surprising to us is that they’re so close, and such a large fraction is interacting. If a star has a companion so close next to it, it will have a very different evolutionary path. Before, this was very complicated for us to model, so we were hoping it was a minority of stars. But, if 70 percent of massive stars are behaving like this, we really need to change how we view these stars.”
Until this study, most astronomers believed that closely-orbiting Type O stars were rare and only needed to explain more exotic phenomena. The study also shows that the lives of these particular stars are quite different from single stars.
When a vampire star sucks the fresh hydrogen from its companion, it becomes rejuvenated, increasing its mass substantially and the vampire winds up outliving its companion, surviving much longer than a single star of the same mass would. The victim companion winds up appearing much younger than it actually is as its hot blue core is left exposed.
The video below shows these vampire stars in action.