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Tim Kendall's Extreme Astrophysics

Massive overcontact binary VFTS 352 in the Tarantula Nebula

21 Oct 2015, 16:10 UTC
Massive overcontact binary VFTS 352 in the Tarantula Nebula
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

This image shows the location of VFTS 352 — the hottest and most massive double star system to date where the two components are in contact and sharing material. The two stars in this extreme system lie about 160 000 light-years from Earth in the Large Magellanic Cloud. This intriguing system could be heading for a dramatic end, either merging to form a single giant star or forming a binary black hole. This view of the Tarantula star-forming region includes visible-light images from the Wide Field Imager at the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre telescope at La Silla and infrared images from the 4.1-metre infrared VISTA telescope at Paranal. Image and text courtesy ESO Science Release eso1540. The discovery at the ESO/VLT of this remarkable binary is reported in “Discovery of the massive overcontact binary VFTS 352: Evidence for enhanced internal mixing”, L.M. Almeida et al., in Astrophysical Journal, vol 812, 2, 102 (2015) (DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/812/2/102) and I reproduce here the abstract:

The contact phase expected to precede the coalescence of two massive stars is poorly characterized due to the paucity of observational constraints. Here we report on the discovery of VFTS 352, an O-type binary in the 30 Doradus region, as the ...

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