On 1 December 2020, the scientific community has suffered a great loss and for good reason. This date was marked by the collapse of the Arecibo radio telescope, based in Puerto Rico (United States). Fortunately, researchers can still exploit its data. Thanks to an article relayed by the Live Science site, we learned that it recently enabled the discovery of spider stars.
It was by studying data collected between 2013 and 2018 by the Arecibo radio telescope that the researchers detected these strange celestial bodies. They reported the presence of 5 spider stars . The first three are "black widows." The fourth is a "redback", that is to say a black widow with a red back. The fifth, on the other hand, is a hybrid star halfway between a black widow and a redback.
According to experts, these stars feed on the energy of their neighbors.
You rarely hear about spider stars. Yet they are well known to scientists. These are pulsars or neutron stars that come from supernova explosions.
Spider stars are characterized by a pulse that occurs every 30 milliseconds. On the other hand, they emit light flashes with each of their rotation. Some neutron stars suck matter from bodies in their binary orbit to maintain their speed. Spider stars, on the other hand, are much more fearsome.
Stars who indulge in cannibalism?
These stars are aptly named. Everyone knows the reputation of black widows. This species of spider is known to devour males of its own species after mating. Well, spider stars behave pretty much the same. They destroy the surface of their binary star and absorb all their energy.
The stars called "black widows" are accompanied by a binary star whose mass reaches one tenth of that of the Sun (between 0.02 and 0.03 times). Redbacks, on the other hand, have larger companions that often move between Earth and the spider star. However, the mystery remains unsolved regarding the hybrid star. Its characteristics are indeed between those of redbacks and black widows.
Its companion sometimes causes eclipses, like that of a redback, passing between Earth and the spider star. Nonetheless, she's too heavy to be a black widow and too light to be a redback.