Vampire Stars

In the cold dead of the night, even in the scurry of a hundred street lights, an orange star shines brightly above the belt, on the Hunter’s right shoulder. A red supergiant on the verge of exploding into a supernova, Betelgeuse is a true enigma.

Betelgeuse is twenty times larger than our sun, so massive that in the sun’s place, it could very well swallow up the earth. Such a massive star should spin slowly as when size increases, the rotation rate should decrease. But that is not the case with the red giant, a 2016 study says. It’ spinning faster than it actually should. Why? The study speculates that a 100 thousand years ago, Betelgeuse may have gobbled up its companion star about the size of our sun, transferring the angular momentum of the companion star to the giant and thus securing its ultra-fast rotation. Betelgeuse may well be, a vampire star.

Stars don’t live alone. They live in clusters. They are born from the same clouds of gas and dust. They live and age together in the same cluster. Some of them share their gravitational field with a companion star, near or far away from them and they exist as binary systems. They rotate and traverse their orbit and sometimes when in a straight line with their companion, eclipse the other. It’s a beautiful relationship.

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Artist’s impression of a vampire star and its companion star. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/S.E. de Mink

In some of these binary pairs, where one orbits the other or in a shared gravitational field where they orbit close together, there is a possibility that these two stars could merge. There is also the chance of the low mass companion star pulling off materials from the surface of the larger star, rejuvenating itself, smiling blue and younger defying age. The low mass star is dubbed a vampire star. This may have what happened a 100,000 years ago when Betelgeuse became a red star or not. For all we know now, Betelgeuse is a single star.

A soul tie fashions between two stars in a binary system and the low mass star strips off material from the surface of its companion star. The low mass star and its companion now become hotter, younger versions of themselves. One sacrifice to make the other better. Though infamously called as a vampire star and its victim, the stars tell a tale of true friendship, a tale of the oneness of two kindred souls.

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Why science writing? & Published! #1

Now, THAT is a topic tag!

If you read me, that is,  if you read my blog and muse upon the words that echo my thoughts, you would know how passionate I am about writing.

People schedule things that they want to learn and want to do, but I have an intrinsic clock inside me that makes me write and read. I yearn to read and I yearn to write, no push/no motivation needed. It gives me such joy.

I stumbled upon science writing and then, the wheels in my brain started going round and round every time I looked out to nature, up the sky, at the beach, and everywhere else. Thoughts became words and penciled in a paper, they became something. A work of art, maybe not perfect, but an original.

I published my first science article outside of my blog and I am ecstatic. It’s in a newsletter by the Dubai Astronomy Group.

So here it is! Enjoy and leave me ur comments 🙂

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Ciao,

Jovi!

 

If we stayed for one hour on a planet where one hour equals to 7 years on earth, will we feel like it had been one hour or 7 years?

How would space look like if gravity never existed?

There would be no space if gravity didn’t exist. The earth would probably break into chunks and disintegrate. There would be no earth!

 

The jazzy bright horizon

Evening comes and with it brings the promise of beauty undaunted. Striking bold hues adorn the sky when the sun goes for a dip in the sea. No one is born as beautiful as she, draped in her iridescent brick-red soft flowing saree.

When you stand mesmerized, gazing at the coruscating kaleidoscope of colors, you cannot help but wonder why the sun breaks out in multi-hues every sunrise and sunset.

Scattering is a process in which forms of radiation like light, sound, etc are deviated from their straight path to many different directions due to the collision of the light particle with another particle. When sunlight passes through clouds, light scatters in many different directions. Water molecules in the sky after a rain scatter light into VIBGYOR and we have the rainbow!

Now, scattering depends on both the size of the particle and the wavelength of light. Less the wavelength, the more it is scattered. Thus, the short wavelength blue light is scattered much more and it reaches our eyes, this is why the sky is blue.

At dusk and dawn, when the sun is lower, the light that travels has to battle with more molecules which scatter the blue and violet (also has short wavelength) away from our line of sight. Meanwhile, the other colors make it to their destination, our eyes and we see red, orange, rose gold and the magic of the sky.

Stars, the storytellers #1

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Gazing at the stars above, do you know that you are actually looking at their past? Light from the sun takes about 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach the earth. So, when you are looking at the sun, the sunspots that you see, the eruptions and the wild mechanics of the solar wind are about 8 minutes and 20 seconds old. It takes about 4 years for light to travel from the Alpha Centauri (the nearest star to earth) to earth. So when you see what you see it’s the past. You are looking at what happened four years before from now.

Suppose there is another planet out there teeming with intelligent life, 10,00,000 light years from us when they look at us, they are not gonna see the clutter of buildings or advanced human life. They are gonna see Tyrannosaurus, Spinosaurus and Giganotosaurus, and the dense coniferous jungles, scrublands and riparian forests.

On a clear starry night, when you look out at the gazillions of stars above, think about this and revel in the mystery that is our universe.

Image Credit: Kerry-Ann Lecky Hepburn

The hunter and the dog

Note : This is from long long ago.

The hunter and the dog aka Orion and Cansa major, finally came into the view of my brains and eyes, of course?

Is that a dog? Is that a head? Is that a what in the heavens not? So goes my head in all of my stargazing sessions. Ani would point at some bright speck in the sky and claim it to be Jupiter. My head would whirl and I’d have no idea how she knew. How do you know a planet from a star? How do you know it’s Jupiter and not Venus? So goes my list of questions. My inability to make out farther than Orion’s belt has thinned into the air this December.

It’s the season to be jolly, la la la la la la la.

I was back home in Kerala where the skies are clear, the water green and the soil rich. The starry sky lit up in all its glory and I summoned up the courage to go up the terrace in the dark with my kid brother.It was dark and I could hear the faint murmur of the seas, the lighthouse lights went sweeping about the sky and straight up lying down, the stars themselves looked down upon me and my eyes met them. The belt, the shoulders, the legs and the arrow and Betelgeuse shining orange at me. Jupiter shone down and Sirius, the brightest smiled. Orion and Cansa major, I could see. Ecstatic, I pointed em all out to Sam and he was thrilled and right at that moment, a shooting star sped along Orion’s belt making it the best night among many nights.

Planets don’t twinkle, stars do. Planets are way brighter than stars. Get a diagram of the constellation and look up Orion, you will know how easy it is. The position of the constellations changes with time and you can tell time by their positions and that is how the ancients knew to tell time. Sailors told time by knowing the positions of the constellations and now, I know.😊 Venus is the bright evening star visible from 6:45 to 8 something. Jupiter appears from 8 to 10 something. And now, you know too.😊

From some damn stupid essay that I read in undergrad that there is beauty in ignorance, that there is some magic to not knowing the names of all the flowers out there and when spring comes you learn it all anew and forget, I thought ignorance was bliss. But I was wrong, at least in my case, there is a beauty in knowing, when I look up at the starry sky and my heart sings that I know two of those stars by name and I know where they are, my heart sings in joy for He hung up each of the stars and called them each by name and I know two of them up in the sky 😀. There is a beauty in knowing.There is beauty in wisdom. This is a treasure and digging it up is a pleasure.

I flew back to Sharjah today and before the descent, when we were up in the sky, I saw Jupiter shining in all its glory upon the starred city. A thousand lights glimmered in the sea and I sunk in the pleasure of knowing.

So, I guess this is a lesson learnt and this post short of an Aesop’s fable, after all.

Moral of the story: Don’t feign ignorance, dig up treasure aka knowledge.

Image Credits: Jingpeng Photography