Massive vampire stars are more common than previously believed

On a cosmic scale, our sun is small. Some stars are much larger, hotter, and more massive than our Sun and in many cases, these massive stars are in a binary pair with a smaller partner star orbiting nearby. Scientists say that in many cases these binary pairs have one "vampire" star that sucks mass from the other. Astronomers say that about three-fourths of O-type stars have a companion star and that a third of these binary pairs are expected to merge into a single star eventually.

These massive stars are 15 or more times the massive than our Sun and can be up to 1 million times brighter. Astronomer Hugues Sana from the University of Amsterdam says that the surface temperature of these massive stars can be up to 30,000°C. The extreme heat produced by the stars give them a bluish-white light rather than the yellow light our Sun produces.

After studying a sample of 71 O-type single stars and binary stars in six nearby young star clusters in our Milky Way galaxy, scientists determined that 75% of all O-type stars exist as part of binary systems. They also found that many of these pairs are close enough to interact through stellar mergers or the transfer mass. According to the scientists, even if the stars aren't close enough to merge, one star often pulls mass off the other in these binary pairs. Scientists previously believed that binary pairs were rare; the new data shows that the binary stars are common.

"These stars are absolute behemoths," says Hugues Sana of the University of Amsterdam.

"They have 15 or more times the mass of our sun and can be up to a million times brighter. These stars are so hot that they shine with a brilliant blue-white light and have surface temperatures over 30,000 degrees Celsius."

[via TG Daily]