For the first time, European Space Agency’s Integral space observatory has witnessed a rare event where a red giant star helped revive its dead companion star.
The ESA observatory detected a dead slow-spinning neutron star which revived back to life as it got a burst of X-ray light from its neighboring star. The space observatory first detected the X-ray burst back in August 2017. However, the researchers were not successful in identifying its origin because of its location in the direction of the Milky Way’s center.
After observing closely for two weeks, the researchers were able to detect the origin of the X-ray burst which they found was coming from a neutron star orbiting a giant red star.
Notably, neutron stars are treated as endpoints of stellar evolution. These are the leftovers of the stars which are almost 25 to 30 times the mass of the Sun. They burn through their fuel quickly and then collapse and explode as a supernova. The outer layers of the star are blasted away during the explosion leaving behind a small star, a neutron star.
“Integral caught a unique moment in the birth of a rare binary system,” said Enrico Bozzo, lead author of the study. He explained that the red giant star released dense winds sufficient enough for its neutron companion star to feed on and giving rise to high-energy emission which is now observed by the scientists.
The research team claims that the neutron star is only receiving some amount of gas from the red giant star. But gradually over time the flow of gas will become regular and slow down the neutron star causing it to emit X-rays regularly.
Bozzo added that they will continue to keep a close watch on the neutron star to see how it behaves in case of a long ‘burp’ of winds.
The research study will get published in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics.