A star in the Milky Way may be the source of a gamma flare

An international team of astronomers has found a system of old and unstable stars in the Milky Way that is on the verge of a massive explosion. Researchers say the system, named Apep after the Egyptian god of chaos, has the perfect conditions to produce a dangerous gamma-ray flare – one of the brightest and most energetic events in the Universe.

Astronomers have discovered a star system not seen before in the Milky Way. A star system wrapped in serpentine windsoin the stellar wkrotce explodes. Scientists at the University of Sydney say the Apep system is well positioned to become a stellar storm, causing a gamma-ray flare.

The star system is officially named 2XMM J160050.7-514245, but scientists gave it the nickname Apep after the Egyptian snake god, boa state of chaos, whichory fought a battle with the sun god every night – Ra. System surrounded by long, fiery plumes of matter ejected into space. The system is located 8,000 light years from us in the southern sky constellation – Carbons, just below the tail of Scorpio.

The findings were published in the journal „Nature Astronomy”.

Matter spotted with the VLT telescope in Chile (Very Large Telescope – Very Large Telescope) comes from a pair of tightly-circulating Wolf-Rayet stars. But in fact it is a system of three stars. Two of the objects are close enough together to look like a single bright light. In the area orbits roalso a third, much fainter and more distant star in the system.

– When we discovered this system, we knew right away that we had encountered something special. When we saw a stunning plume of dust wrapped in a wokoł these flared stars, we decided to call the system Apep – a monstrous serpentine boThe creature and mortal enemy of the Sun god Ra from Egyptian mythology – said Joe Callingham, coopublication router.

Wolf-Rayet stars are ultramassive stars at the end of their lives, whichore have already consumed all their fuel. As observations have confirmed, they rotate rapidly ejecting matter into space at a speed of 3,400 kilometersoin per second and could explode at any time. Astronomers believe that when this happens, the system could potentially produce gamma-ray flares.

– The visible curved tail is formed by both binary stars, ktore injecting dust into the expanding winds creating a pattern ofor resembling a rotating lawn sprinkler – admitted the study’s leader, Professor Peter Tuthill. However, data from the piotoads were a mystery: stellar winds expanded 10 times faster than dust.

According to Benjamin Pope of New York University, ktory row also is wspopublication’s author, the key to understanding the wind’s bizarre behavior is the rotation of stars. – What we found in the Apep system is a precursor to a supernova, ktory seems to rotate very fast, so fast that it may be close to decaying. Rapid rotation puts Apep in a whole new class of. Normal supernovae are already extreme events, but adding rotation to the mix could be like adding oil to the fire – explained Pope.

It is not clear what is causing such an exponential RPMot of Wolf-Rayet-type stars. But, astronomers say, this will play a key role in causing the gamma flare. And that time should come wkrotce, at least as far as the cosmic point of view is concerned. Wolf-Rayet stars live in this fast-spinning state for only a few hundred thousand years.

Researchers believe that it is the addition of fast rotation to this system that may be the perfect recipe to produce a gamma-ray flare. This is the most extreme event in the Universe after the Big Bang itself. So far, gamma flares have only been detected from deep space, but researchers report that the Apep system is a good candidate for such an explosion. It would be the first known system of its kind discovered in the Milky Way.

Fortunately, it appears that Apep is not aimed at Earth. An impact by a gamma flare from this distance could separate ozone from the atmosphere, dramatically increasing our exposure to UV radiation from the sun.

– Ultimately, we can’t be sure what the future holds for us from Apepa. The system may slow down enough to explode like a normal supernova, rather than a gamma-ray flare. Regardless, the system provides astronomers with an opportunity to study – Tuthill said .

Amongod authoropublication featured Dr. Lucyna Kędziora-Chudczer, a graduate student in astronomy at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, ktora has lived and worked in Australia for years. She took part in infrared observations of the Apel system.