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Space Science

Two Totally Unique Star Systems Discovered 141

Posted by Zonk
from the two-of-a-kind-beats-ace-high dept.
esocid writes "Astronomers have spied a faraway star system that is so unusual, it was one of a kind — until its discovery helped them pinpoint a second one that was much closer to home. In a paper published in a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal Letters, Ohio State University astronomers and their colleagues suggest that these star systems are the progenitors of a rare type of supernova. In research funded by the National Science Foundation, they found a star system that is unusual, because it's what the astronomers have called a 'yellow supergiant eclipsing binary' — it contains two very bright, massive yellow stars that are very closely orbiting each other. In fact, the stars are so close together that a large amount of stellar material is shared between them, so that the shape of the system resembles a peanut."
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Two Totally Unique Star Systems Discovered

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  • by EdIII (1114411) * on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:23AM (#22929026)
    "Dude, I can't find you."
    "What do you mean you can't find me? Did you follow my directions?"
    "I already flew by there five fucking times, I can't find you!"
    "Jeezus Christ! It's the one that looks like a peanut you pendejo! How many of them look like a peanut? How could you miss that!?"
  • Good to hear... I got tired of looking at partially unique ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by allcar (1111567)
      Abuse of words like "unique" is commonplace in these days of grammar ignorance, but this article really does excel. The trouble is, I can't decide if it was deliberate irony on behalf of the author, or just plain ignorance.
      • by siride (974284)
        It's not misuse. The only misuse is from the grammar NAZIs who refuse to understand nuance and complexity in language.

        In common usage, "unique" can refer to all attributes, or only a single attribute or subset of them. Thus, you can have degrees of uniqueness based on the number of attributes that are unique. And in a more metaphorical way, uniqueness can also refer to the degree to which the differences that make the item unique set it apart. If the differences are large, then we would say "xyz is very
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by david.given (6740)

          Now, if the grammar NAZIs would pull their heads from their asses...

          You do realise that Nazi is a proper noun, not an acronym, and therefore should not be capitalised?

          HTH. HAND.

          • by tepples (727027)

            You do realise that Nazi is a proper noun, not an acronym
            It's almost an acronym: "NAtionalsoZIalistische".
          • by mollymoo (202721) *

            You do realise that Nazi is a proper noun, not an acronym, and therefore should not be capitalised?

            In this usage, isn't it about time we dropped the capitalisation entirely? Save Nazi (big N) for memebers of the Nazi Party. Use nazi (little n) for someone who is uptight, particular and pushes their views on others, but doesn't typically have the desire to commit genocide.

            • by aliquis (678370)
              So what are the correct word to use in the case of Bush? AFAIK he's not a member of the Nazi party, he's probably ok with genocide thought,
        • by mollymoo (202721) *

          It's not misuse. The only misuse is from the grammar NAZIs who refuse to understand nuance and complexity in language.

          ITYM "semantics nazi".

        • by allcar (1111567)
          You are completely wrong. "Unique" has one meaning and one meaning alone. This is not grammar, it is semantics. There can be no degrees of uniqueness. It is a boolean term. Either something is unique or it is not. If you argue otherwise, you are wrong.
          Why misuse a word when there are plenty of excellent alternatives in this rich language of ours? How about "rare", "uncommon", "exceptional", "unusual", "extraordinary"?
          You can apply modifiers to any of these terms if they are not strong enough for you. You c
          • by siride (974284)
            No word has just one meaning. That's what makes language great. There are nuances, metaphors, intentional misuse, irony, litotes, etc. These all add to the richness of expression. Yes, from a purely logical standpoint, you could have a word mean one and only one thing and require a set of strict rules in which those words could be used. But that would make the language only capable of expressing a subset of what it can express now? The alternatives you have given, for example, do not suffice in this c
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Abuse of words like "unique" is commonplace in these days of grammar ignorance, but this article really does excel.

        Astronomers tend to err on the side of caution in their terms. You find a solar system and go "wow, that is so far removed from our models it's gotta be a unique system". Then, seemingly invariably, we find a second one. I think you need to cut them some slack on "unique".

        It would normally be bad science to say "we found one, so we infer there are many" ... however, over the last bunch of y

        • It would normally be bad science to say "we found one, so we infer there are many" ... however, over the last bunch of years in Astronomy has consistently re-affirmed exactly that.

          The problem is, it was considered completely "unique" until they found a second one.

          "The number 'two' is impossible." Isaac Asimov in The Gods Themselves. The point being that in cosmology there may be zero of something or one of something, but once you know there is more than one of something, you should assume that the number is infinite.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Minwee (522556)

        Abuse of words like "unique" is commonplace in these days of grammar ignorance, but this article really does excel. The trouble is, I can't decide if it was deliberate irony on behalf of the author, or just plain ignorance.

        Is that the same kind of ignorance that comes from not knowing what a word means [merriam-webster.com], or were you trying to win some kind of award for creative use of the term irony?

      • by hey! (33014)
        If people were really ignorant of grammar, then they wouldn't be able to do more than the verbal equivalent of pointing at things and grunting.

        What people are ignorant of is standard usage. These rules exist to provide writers with guidelines by means of which they can make their meaning clear the greatest number of readers.

        Still, it is a silly charade to pretend that you do not understand phrases like "somewhat unique" and "totally unique", just because you want to prove somebody is ignorant. Because th
    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      Here's a quote from the astronomer who found the systems, Dr. Val Egirl: "Like, oh my God, those systems are, like, totally unique fer shur. Those other astrophysicists are all like, 'they aren't unique if there's two of them', but, like, whatever!"
    • by BraksDad (963908)
      What are the Masses of each of the "Unique" star systems?
      As measured in KG?

      Are they the same?

      I didn't think so.
  • Scrotal (Score:5, Funny)

    by minginqunt (225413) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:30AM (#22929054) Homepage Journal
    A peanut? SPACEBALLS, more like.
  • Two? (Score:2, Informative)

    by jgoemat (565882)
    If you have two of something, by definition it is no longer unique...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by eebra82 (907996)

      If you have two of something, by definition it is no longer unique...
      It is in fact unique divided by half now.
      • by Epistax (544591)

        If you have two of something, by definition it is no longer unique...
        It is in fact unique divided by half now.
        Oh no! We lost 1½ of them?!
      • by Nevermine (565876)
        Quit raping the English language. Is 'totally unique' more unique than just 'unique'?
      • In fact, the proper term is twonique, or tonic as it's more commonly known.
      • by float_on (1139653)
        That would be (2*unique)/(1/2)=4*unique? Oh nos! The uniqueness is increasing!!
      • by belthize (990217)
        Sigh, can't anybody even use google anymore. It's tunique ... it's where
        we get the word tunic. In the 13th century a French clothier invented a new
        shirt style for himself which one of his friends borrowed.

              It was originally called a tunique but was anglicized to tunic.

        Belthize
    • Re:Two? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:51AM (#22929136)
      What? I've had hundreds of Uniques in Diablo!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Thanshin (1188877)
      I've always wondered about the English expression "quite unique".

      It seems for English speakers, uniqueness is not binary.

      I suppose two instances of double rotating stars make them "somewhat unique in a certain way". Uniqueish, even.
    • by jd (1658)
      Ah, but by being the semantical exception to the rule, it thereby becomes unique. Apart from the other one, and vice versa.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by minginqunt (225413)
      If you have two of something, by definition it is no longer unique...

      Indeed. It becomes 'duique'.
      • Indeed. It becomes 'duique'.
        ... and soon it will become Slashdot...
      • If you have two of something, by definition it is no longer unique...

        Indeed. It becomes 'duique'.
        And if something becomes even more unique than before, it becomes monique.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Dutchmaan (442553)
      So if I find, lets say, a neon blue apple and an apple with a cube shape.. Did I not find two unique apples?

      I suppose you could take that a few steps further saying that all apples are unique since none are 100% identical. So I suppose it's all about relativity of perception.

      Ironic how you can have multiple unique objects but if you use "unique" as a catergory they all become the same.
      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        So if I find, lets say, a neon blue apple and an apple with a cube shape.. Did I not find two unique apples?
        But not totally unique. They aren't unique in appleness, only in shape or color.

        Those are a clear example of partially unique, or quite unique, apples.

      • by eebra82 (907996)

        I suppose you could take that a few steps further saying that all apples are unique since none are 100% identical. So I suppose it's all about relativity of perception. Ironic how you can have multiple unique objects but if you use "unique" as a catergory they all become the same.

        Why is it ironic? Of course stars will always be unique because of differences in its mass (etc). But unique by category is not illogical at all. For example, if you have a 10 inches long tail, its length may be unique but the condition is not, since it is shared by others. However, if you were the only one to have a tail, your condition would be unique.

        In other words, the world unique must not have anything to do with the mass, position or temperature of an object.

    • by CFTM (513264)
      Diablo II certainly disagreed with you on this one!
    • by Kingrames (858416)
      This might be a unique exception to that rule.
    • by saider (177166)
      Aha! My sig is relevant to this discussion!
    • by esocid (946821)
      As submitter I will take full responsibility for the mista...haha just kidding. I'm just the middle man, so suck on those peanuts.
    • The problem isn't saying that two stars (or any two people) are each unique - the problem is saying that something is "totally unique." You can't modify an absolute - less perfect, somewhat unique, more omniscient, very infinite, etc. Either it fits the category ("totally, dude") or it doesn't.
    • I think it's difficult to find anything really "unique" in something as big and diverse as the universe. By definition.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:37AM (#22929084)
    That's no peanut
  • Oh yeah [film.com]! Next, we'll discover that these two stars are engorged with milk.
  • by Thanshin (1188877) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:47AM (#22929118)
    I mean, it's not so hard to imagine two stars circling one another. Don't they study how would that work without waiting to find an instance?

    Actually, I supposed astrophysicist first studied the effects of an unobserved configuration and from the results they described what data to expect from such a configuration. Actually finding it was the last step, in my supposition created world.

    The article, however, seems to describe the discovery as quite a surprise.
    • by jd (1658) <imipak AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:57AM (#22929328) Homepage Journal
      The stars are very very close and very very large. You'd need some very precise conditions to arise, or:

      • They'd merge
      • The gravitational fields would screw up the star formation
      • The gravitational waves in the oscillating system would necessarily damp it and cause the stars to collide
      • The original seeding material would have collapsed to the common center of gravity
      • The original seeding material would have flown apart
      • The gasses the stars formed from would not have been uniform enough for two equal-sized stars to form
      • The stellar nursary would have had another star close enough to disrupt/destroy the system
      • One or both would have exploded early on, from the massive, continuous surface disruption

      So, yes, they'll occur. Obviously, since they have. However, they are probably some of the rarest of stellar phenomena. Unique, no. Staggeringly rare, definitely.

      • by MrKaos (858439)
        I was wondering if it is possible to have galaxies in this configuration?
      • by Briden (1003105)
        I find it entirely possible that two interstellar bodies can find equilibrium between each other. not just possible, but in fact, normal I bet we will find more of them now that we are looking.

        like two parts of any system of any size, they can exist in harmony, if there is balance. this balance is all part of the natural world, and it's ludicrous to think that us puny humans can even comprehend most of these things yet. there are entangled photons, entangled souls, and now we have entangled solar systems
        • Woah...where's that sitar music coming from?
        • by jd (1658)
          ...in Buddhism, conflict is deemed the natural state of matter. In mathematics, all is chaos. Even order is chaos, and only appears as order because of the nature of chaos itself. Harmony is not a state of nature. Where Lovelock's Gaia produces "balance", it does so not through harmony or entanglement but through stable conflict, through all things being at war with each other and themselves. (Daisyworld scenarios only work if white daisies - which reflect heat and thus produce cold - require the very thing
  • Sorry i have already patented this idea, and it's a $10,000 license fee to use the term.
  • Come on, guys, pick up your game. There's a peanut on the lens.
  • Na na na na, na na na na na...
    Na na na na, na na na na na...


    Katamari Damacy...
  • uh... (Score:3, Funny)

    by transiit (33489) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @05:59AM (#22929166) Homepage Journal
    This year's April 1st jokes are just a bit too esoteric, I think. Celestial peanut? What?
  • by Shag (3737) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @06:10AM (#22929200) Homepage
    The article unfortunately doesn't say what rare type of supernovae these rare stars become. After a quick google I'm guessing they may be the type IIP ones, but I'm only familiar with type IA ones personally (and for relatively low values of "familiar" at that). We get our own not-quite-unique things over in type-IA land, too, like the super-Chandrasekhar-mass ones. SN2007if, discovered last year, was only the second one of those to be found.
  • Should it actually read "Totally Unique Two-star System Discovered"?
    • by splutty (43475)
      Two thought to be unique two-star systems discovered that are uniquely tying together two stars previously thought to be unique for certain value of uniqueness.

      Although I guess that's somewhat overkill for a headline :) However. The article does explain it. They found a unique set of stars in a (at that moment) unique configuration. Then in their search they found another one that had been documented way earlier but wrongly classified. Thus the (admittedly rather borked) headline.
    • The fact that there are two such systems rather diminishes the uniqueness of the original find, no?

      So, yes, the headline is not optimal. Serviceable, yes.
  • I wonder about the stability of the peanut shape. Why would the two stars not simply merge into a single star with a greater rotational speed? I guess if stars get this close together they must rotate (around themselves) at the same speed due to the tidal forces.
    • by Shag (3737)

      Why would the two stars not simply merge into a single star with a greater rotational speed

      Presumably they're at a distance, and orbiting each other at a speed, that prevents that from happening (at least in the short term).

      Some types of supernovae (like the IA's I mentioned earlier) do involve a small white dwarf accreting material from another larger star until it passes a critical mass, then blowing itself to bits. (Or, in so far rarely seen cases, the possibility of two white dwarves colliding.)

    • by saider (177166)

      The angular velocity probably keeps the masses separated (centripetal acceleration and all that).
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @07:44AM (#22929462) Homepage Journal
    found a peanut, found a peanut,
    found a peeeeeanut just now,
    just now I found a peanut,
    Found a peanut just now.
    (feel free to share the rest of the lyrics with the class)
    • by Minwee (522556)

      (feel free to share the rest of the lyrics with the class)

      Okay [soundtrackslyrics.com]...

      My nuts stand tall they never fall
      Ripe and yes always on the ball
      FDA fresh and they are the best
      A winner of every damn taste test
      Eat em for pleasure or at your leisure
      a taste that all the girls do treasure
      Never illin but chillin
      Never stealin but dealin
      my peanuts are what you're feelin
      I take em to the beach, I take em to the park
      I takem to your mothers house after dark
      They ain't like no nuts from Jimmy Carter
      I know my nuts rock

  • by doti (966971) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @08:00AM (#22929544) Homepage
    Now, imagine the size of the squirrel!
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @08:27AM (#22929684)
    I DARE someone to fly in between them. I DOUBLE-DOG dare ya.
  • Ahem. That's THE Ohio State University. I have relatives who've graduated from there. Thank you.

  • Charlie Brown and Snoopy
  • I'm disappointed (Score:4, Informative)

    by morethanapapercert (749527) on Tuesday April 01, 2008 @09:54AM (#22930270)
    Despite the obvious importance of his work to a celestial arrangement of this kind, the article doesn't refer to Edourad Roche [wikipedia.org] or the Roche Lobe [wikipedia.org]that forms in the region between these two stars. When Roche Lobes overlap, it is a Contact Binary [wikipedia.org]
  • Like this [youtube.com]. Then all will be right with the universe again.
  • Steven Hawking: Your idea of a peanut shaped star intrigues me, Homer. I may have to steal it.

  • If it's unique, why are there two?

How many QA engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? 3: 1 to screw it in and 2 to say "I told you so" when it doesn't work.

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