A “vampire” dwarf star is sucking the life force from its partner star, and their entanglement produced a rare superoutburst.
NASA detailed this previously unknown dwarf nova, a brief eruption from dwarf stars, in a statement on Jan. 24. The system brightened by a factor of 1,600 over less than a day, space agency officials said in the statement, and this uncommon sighting was made by a mission targeting an entirely different cosmic population.
This rare finding was made by “accident,” according to the research team that found the super-outburst. The Kepler Space Telescope is now retired, but when it was scouring the sky, it searched for exoplanets that dimmed their parent stars as they moved across those stellar faces. Because it was designed to look for variations in brightness, Kepler was able to pick up on this super-outburst.