NASA telescope unearths a rare binary system of stars in neighboring galaxy

Researchers have declared that they have found the first gamma-ray binary in another galaxy and it is one of the most luminous. Scientists used the data obtained from NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and other facilities.

Gamma-ray Binary is the name which is given to an arrangement of two stars- one regular and another a neutron star or a black hole. The radiation from the black hole or the neutron star is dominated by gamma rays which are the highest-energy form of light. Such systems are very rare in the cosmos, and only five have been found so far in the Milky Way. The system has been named LMC P3 and it is located in a galaxy close to our galaxy called Large Magellanic Cloud and is 163,000 light-years away.

Explaining the importance of the discovery, lead researcher Robin Corbet at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland said that the telescope has till date only detected five of these systems in our Milky Way galaxy and the discovery of a luminous and distant binary system is remarkable. The gamma-ray binaries are much sought after by scientists because the strength of the gamma-rays radiated changes significantly during each orbit and sometimes over longer time scales. It helps in the study of many emissions which happen from other gamma ray sources in unique details.

The binary system was first observed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory in 2012. However, it was classified as high-mass X-ray binary (HMXB) at the time. The LMCP3 is located within the ever spreading debris of a supernova explosion in the Large Magellanic Cloud. The team also discovered a 10.3-day cyclic change which was located near one of the many gamma ray points.


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Meenakshi Rawat

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