Science

NASA Discovers Pumpkin Stars, Bigger And Better Than Sun

By Rodney Rafols , Oct 28, 2016 09:24 PM EDT
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NASA and other agencies, as well as astronomers, look into space to solve its many mysteries. Often they find objects that do not fit the conventional norm of what many people believe to be what they are. The known concepts are challenged with each new discovery. NASA discovers pumpkin stars, which are said to be bigger and better than the Sun.

NASA missions have seen these pumpkin stars, which are essentially stars that are spinning so fast that they soon acquire a pumpkin shape. The pumpkin stars have been observed by NASA's Kepler and Swift missions. The stars rotation is fast that it produces X-ray emissions 100 times more than the peak level of the Sun.

Compared to the Sun, the pumpkin stars rotate for just a few days long. The Sun has a rotation that takes a month, observed Steve Howell, senior research scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center. He is also the leader of the research team. In his observation, the pumpkin stars also amplify what is happening on the Sun, such as the existence of sunspots and solar flares.

The pumpkin stars have different sizes. The largest of these is KSw 71, a K-type orange giant that is 10 times larger than the Sun. Despite its size, it rotates in just 5.5 days. The X-rays emitted by it is around 4,000 times greater than what the Sun produces, according to NASA's official site.

Pumpkin stars are rare, though. They have been found through an X-ray survey of the original Kepler field view. This comprised of 150,000 stars in the constellations Cygnus and Lyra while measuring their brightness. Krista Lynne Smith, a graduate student from the University of Maryland, College Park led the analysis gathered from the Swift mission. She said that many of the sources have never been observed either by X-ray or ultraviolet light.

For the rotation measurements, the team used the data from Kepler to determine it as well as the size of the stars, as Science Daily reports. On average the stars are 2.9 to 10.5 times larger than the Sun. Their temperatures were rather cool, though, with the range coming in at slightly hotter to slightly cooler than the Sun. As for their age, they are generally much older than the Sun since they are subgiants to giant stars.

The team is continuing its search for other pumpkin stars. That would mean extending the current Swift mission. NASA hopes to discover more pumpkin stars that might be bigger and better than the Sun. Earlier a report states of a remnant star at the center of the Crab Nebula.

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