Triple Star System Paves Road to Understanding Gravity

 

triple star system pulsar

Triple star systems could play a more important role than we first thought. http://www.bbc.co.uk/

A new study published in the scientific journal Nature documents the discovery of a very peculiar triple star system. Astronomers believe that observation and analyzation of this triple star system could potentially resolve lingering discrepancies in some of Einstein’s theories concerning gravity. In fact, this particular triple star system could eventually lead to unraveling the secrets of gravity.

Related Article: Our Special Time in the Universe

This triple star system is roughly 4200 light years from Earth and is composed of a pulsar and two white dwarfs orbiting each other within a space smaller than Earth’s orbit of the sun.  The pulsar closely orbits a white dwarf star while a second white dwarf star orbits the pair from a distance. While a triple star system like this one has been found before, this is the first time such a strong interaction between the orbiting objects has been observed.

According to Scott Ransom of the US National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Charlottesville, VA:

This triple star system gives us a natural cosmic laboratory far better than anything found before for learning exactly how such three-body systems work and potentially for detecting problems with general relativity that physicists expect to see under extreme conditions. This is a fascinating system in many ways, including what must have been a completely crazy formation history, and we have much work to do to fully understand it.

triple star system binary

An easy way to imagine a stellar trio. http://www.miqel.com

Pulsars are created in the presence of a supernova. Under the intensity of a supernova, burnt out stars can collapse and turn into a dense, highly magnetized ball of neutrons. A pulsar emits radio-waves in the same way a lighthouse emits light. Pulsars can only be seen when the beam of radio waves is pointing at the Earth. While pulsars all spin at different rates, the pulsar in the study spins at an extremely rapid rate of 366 times per second. Due to its incredible rotation speed, this type of pulsar is called a millisecond pulsar. Finding this millisecond pulsar triple star system is important because

This is the first millisecond pulsar found in such a system, and we immediately recognized that it provides us with a tremendous opportunity to study both the effects and nature of gravity. The gravitational perturbations imposed on each member of this system by the others are incredibly pure and strong.

Binary and triple star systems appear all over the galaxy. Even our sun is likely part of a larger binary solar system. While the systems can vary in formation, most are formed in a very similar fashion to the triple stellar system described in the study.  Two of the stars form a binary system and the third star orbits the pair at a far greater orbit. If the system isn’t constructed this way it becomes unstable, leading to a star being ejected at high velocities away from the pair.

Related Article: New Type of Hypervelocity Star Found: Just Passing Through

So as is usual with cosmological physics, the hardest aspect of reading any study is figuring out why we should care about the discovery of a special triple star system. The thing is, gravity is a rascal when it comes to theories of the universe. It simply doesn’t fit into any modern quantum theories. The Einstein Equivalence Principle states:  

The outcome of any local non-gravitational experiment in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime.

This eventually led to the Strong Equivalence Principle, which states:

The gravitational motion of a small test body depends only on its initial position in spacetime and velocity, and not on its constitution. The outcome of any local experiment (gravitational or not) in a freely falling laboratory is independent of the velocity of the laboratory and its location in spacetime.
triple star system earth gravity

Gravity is stranger than you think. http://podaac.jpl.nasa.gov/

The equivalence principle holds true in most experiments, but in the quantum world it completely falls apart. Einstein’s theory of general relativity holds true for massive celestial bodies, but the miniscule world of quantum physics is a different realm entirely.

Related Article: Long Distance Quantum Teleportation is Reality

Countless attempts have been made to create a Grand Unified Theory of physics involving a single equation that would involve all forces currently known to man. The problem is that gravity constantly throws a wrench in the spokes of every unified theory physicists come up with. Simply put, the reason this study of a unique triple star system is so important is that by observing the activity of a triple system with such pure and strong gravitational interactions, it may shine light on how gravity functions at the quantum level. This could one day lead to a single unified theory of everything. Physics would no longer be a class, just a single equation you could plug and chug information into and get answers.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nature12917.html

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25598051#FBM325422

http://phys.org/news6428.html

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1994MNRAS.267..161K

http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1968QJRAS…9..388E

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivalence_principle#The_Einstein_equivalence_principle

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/forces/unigrav.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Unified_Theory

 

Two New Blue Developments In Our Galaxy

Some 60 light years away lies Planet HD 189733b, second of its kind as it resembles our humble home, Earth. This planet, let’s call it Blue (due to its blue hue which is probably the only thing resembling Earth) is actually a very interesting planet, as it frequently has rain, like Earth, but not really like earth at all since the rain is curiously made of glass and not water.

This exotic blue planet, full of various gases that make it up, has 4,500 mph winds which possibly cause glass to rain sideways. The blue hue of the planet is the most interesting part, due to water and oceans reflecting light, hinting at habitability and the possibility of life. However, with the extreme weather patterns and the intense heat of the planet (2,000°F to be exact), the planet is not likely housing anything but gases and well, glass. Lots and lots of rainy glass. Who knows though, maybe Chuck Norris lives there.

Related Article: Life, It’s All Over The Place

Another new development in our galaxy is that of the birth of a Supersun. It will contain 500 times more mass than our Sun and it will glow an eerie blue due to its surface temperature of over 50,000°F, which is 5 times hotter than our Sun, thus the nickname Supersun.

Though still under construction, as gases and mass are condensed and compressed under the cold star’s gravity, it will eventually build itself into a heaping Titan of a star, one that Titans of old would be proud of. The coolest part about all this is that scientists are able to view the creation of this Supersun second by second as it piles together, until it combusts and becomes the star it was meant to be! Superman would most likely pass out from all the power that this Supersun would supply him with; maybe it would make for a better movie than the newest Superman rendition.

Related Article: Faster Than Light Travel is Possible

These finds represent very interesting developments in our galaxy, and with ever expanding space, we may find that we are in fact not alone. In case you were curious, here is a little something on our boy ‘Blue,’ Planet HD 189733b:

http://c.brightcove.com/services/viewer/federated_f9?isVid=1&isUI=1

Cheers!

 

Research:

Time: Supersun! Giant New Star

Time: Astronomers Find Oldest Stars

NASA Hubble Finds A True Blue Planet

Chuck Norris Website

IMDB – Man of Steel (2013)

Wondergressive: Faster Than Light Travel is Possible

Wondergressive: Life, It’s All Over The Place

Ancient Galaxy That Shouldn’t Exist is Perfectly Formed

 

Astronomers have discovered a 10.7 billion year old galaxy they say shouldn’t exist.  UCLA astrophysicist Alice Shapley thought her team had made an error when they first discovered the ‘grand design’ spiral galaxy, but after further observation it is clear that this galaxy is in fact the real deal.

The spiral galaxy formed just 3 billion years after the Big Bang, which according to contemporary physics and cosmology, is impossible.

For such a well organized, colossal galaxy to form and keep its shape is unprecedented.  Astronomers believe the galaxy, creatively named BX442, kept it’s shape through the gravitational pull and sway of a nearby dwarf galaxy which it is on a collision course with.

The discovery has set a new benchmark in cosmological inquiry and understanding.  Any find that forces us to rethink and reevaluate is a worthwhile discovery.

I think it’s fairly obvious what is going on.  Our distant galactic neighbors have perfected the art of intentional galactic-forming.

Duh.

Ancient Galaxy That Shouldn’t Exist is Found Perfectly Formed

Astronomers have discovered a 10.7 billion year old galaxy they say shouldn’t exist.  This ancient galaxy was discovered by UCLA astrophysicist Alice Shapley and her team who thought they had made an error when they first discovered the ‘grand design’ spiral galaxy.

Related Article: Our Special Time in the Universe

After further observation it became clear that this ancient galaxy is in fact the real deal. The ancient galaxy has been creatively named “BX442”.

The hallmark of a grand design galaxy is its well-formed spiral arms, but getting into this conformation takes time. When astronomers look at most galaxies as they appeared billions and billions of years ago, they look clumpy and irregular. A 10.7-billion-year-old entity, BX442 came into existence a mere 3-billion years after the Big Bang.

For such a well organized, colossal galaxy to form and keep its shape is unprecedented.  Astronomers believe the ancient galaxy, BX442, kept it’s shape through the gravitational pull and sway of a nearby dwarf galaxy which is on a collision course with it.

Related Article: Two New Blue Developments In Our Galaxy

The discovery of this well formed beautiful ancient galaxy has set a new benchmark in cosmological inquiry and understanding.  Any find that forces us to rethink and reevaluate is a worthwhile discovery. The galaxy we live in is called the Milky Way Galaxy, and Space.com tells us that:

The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy, about 100,000 light-years across. If you could look down on it from the top, you would see a central bulge surrounded by four large spiral arms that wrap around it. Spiral galaxies make up about two-third of the galaxies in the universe.

I think it’s fairly obvious what is going on though.  Our distant galactic neighbors have perfected the art of intentional galactic-forming.

Duh.

Related Article: Galaxy Geysers

 

Sources:

io9: Hubble has spotted an ancient galaxy that shouldn’t exist

Nature: High velocity dispersion in a rare grand-design spiral galaxy at redshift z = 2.18

Space.com- Milky Way Galaxy: Facts about our Galactic Home