Washington: A recent study by the University of Warwick observes that stars need to be in binary systems to create gamma-ray bursts. Gamma-ray bursts are the universe’s brightest explosions, caused by massive collapsing stars. Thousands of binary star systems were modelled for the study and found that the tidal effects from a companion star keep the collapsing star spinning and producing a jet of material.
The University’s astronomers suggest that the biggest and brightest explosions seen in the universe take two stars to make a gamma-ray burst. The new research solves the mystery of how stars spin fast enough to create conditions to launch a jet of highly energetic material into space and has found that tidal effects like those between the Moon and the Earth are the answer.
The discovery, reported in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, is made using simulated models of thousands of binary star systems, that is, solar systems that have two stars orbiting one another.
More than half of all stars are located in binary star systems. This new research shows that they need to be in binary star systems in order for the massive explosions to be created. A long gamma-ray burst (GRB), the type examined in this study, occurs when a massive star about ten times the size of our Sun goes supernova, collapses into a neutron star or black hole and fires a relativistic jet of material into space.
Instead of the star collapsing radially inwards, it flattens down into a disc to conserve angular momentum. As the material falls inwards, that angular momentum launches it in the form of a jet along the polar axis.