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Stars Need a Partner to Spin Universe’s Brightest Explosions

19 Jan 2020, 15:33 UTC
Stars Need a Partner to Spin Universe’s Brightest Explosions
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When it comes to the biggest and brightest explosions seen in the Universe, University of Warwick astronomers have found that it takes two stars to make a gamma-ray burst.New research solves the mystery of how stars spin fast enough to create conditions to launch a jet of highly energetic material into space, and has found that tidal effects like those between the Moon and the Earth are the answer.The discovery, reported in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has been made using simulated models of thousands of binary star systems, that is, solar systems that have two stars orbiting one another.More than half of all stars are located in binary star systems and this new research has shown that they need to be in binary star systems in order for the massive explosions to be created.A long gamma-ray burst (GRB), the type examined in this study, occurs when a massive star about ten times the size of our sun goes supernova, collapses into a neutron star or black hole and fires a relativistic jet of material into space. Instead of the star collapsing radially inwards, it flattens down into a disc to conserve angular momentum. As the material falls ...

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