Researchers say that the so-called "contact binary
" could help yield clues about how other planets formed.
"Two bodies may be orbiting very close together or even touching - what's known as a close or contact binary
- or perhaps they're observing a single body with a large chunk taken out of it."
Follow-up work by Romuald Tylenda (Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center, Poland) and colleagues using archival observations determined that VI309 Sco was likely a contact binary
star--paired suns that orbit so close together, they kiss.
Data from the new system revealed the existence of two binary stars, one of which was a so-called contact binary
"This may be a double object, or 'contact binary
,' consisting of two objects that form a single asteroid with a lobed shape," he said.
W Ursae Majoris stars are members of a class of eclipsing variable stars in which the components are of spectral type late A to mid K; though a recent discovery of Koen and Ishihara (2006) suggest a unique contact binary
of spectral type "later" than M4.
(If the Earth orbited the sun this quickly, a year would be only a few hours longer than a day.) If two stars are close enough to touch, as these two were, astronomers call those stars a contact binary
Kam-Ching is recognized as an authority in contact binary
systems, and known especially for his discovery of multiple early-type contact systems; he initiated the conferences series.
If the components of these "contact binary
asteroids" pull apart but remain gravitationally bound, traveling together as they collide with a planet, they might produce the double craters detected on Earth, the moon, and, most recently, Venus.
Two stars, which are actually a contact binary
(two stars that orbit each other, and also share a common atmosphere), about 1,800 light-years away in the Cygnus constellation, will merge and explode around 2022, and the event, which will lead to the formation of a red nova, will be visible to the naked eye when it occurs.
Piper started with the contact binary
BB Pegasi, whose two stars orbit so closely that they touch each other.