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News Release 22 of 211

July 26, 2012 02:00 PM (EDT)

News Release Number: STScI-2012-33

ESO Telescopes Find Most Stellar Heavyweights Don't Live Alone

A News Nugget Release

July 26, 2012: A new study using European Southern Observatory (ESO) telescopes, including the Very Large Telescope, has shown that most very bright high-mass stars, which drive the evolution of galaxies, do not live alone. Almost three-quarters of the stars studied are found to have a close companion star, far more than previously thought. Surprisingly most of these pairs are also experiencing disruptive interactions, such as mass transfer from one star to the other, and about one-third are even expected to ultimately merge to form a single star. The results are published in the July 27 issue of the journal Science.

The science team is composed of H. Sana (Amsterdam University, The Netherlands), S.E. de Mink (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.; Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Md.), A. de Koter (Amsterdam University; Utrecht University, The Netherlands), N. Langer (University of Bonn, Germany), C.J. Evans (UK Astronomy Technology Center, Edinburgh, UK), M. Gieles (University of Cambridge, UK), E. Gosset (Liege University, Belgium), R.G. Izzard (University of Bonn, Germany), J.-B. Le Bouquin (Université Joseph Fourier, Grenoble, France) and F.R.N. Schneider (University of Bonn, Germany).

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Illustration Credit: ESA, NASA, L. Calcada (ESO), and S.E. de Mink (STScI)

Science Credit: ESA, NASA, H. Sana (Amsterdam University), and S.E. de Mink (STScI)