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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: A 20-Million-Year Orbit
3 October 2013 12:30 pm
Located 25 light-years from Earth and shining by its lonesome in the southern sky on October evenings, Fomalhaut is sometimes called "the solitary one." It's a white A-type star, somewhat hotter than the sun, and the 18th brightest star in the night; it harbors a dusty disk (main image) and a planet whose existence is controversial. Now, astronomers report that a little red star (inset, circled), discovered decades ago 5.67° northwest of Fomalhaut, shares the same distance and motion through space. Thus, as the scientists will announce in a future issue of The Astronomical Journal, the dim red sun probably revolves around the bright white star, even though the two are separated by a whopping 2.5 light-years of space, which is more than half the distance between the sun and Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system to our own. The astronomers calculate that completing a single orbit takes the red dwarf roughly 20 million years. Fomalhaut possesses another distant companion, an orange dwarf named Fomalhaut B, so the discovery means this famous star is a triple system with two of the farthest-flung stellar companions ever seen. And that suggests that widely spaced star systems are more common than astronomers previously thought. Meanwhile, the little red star, which bears the prosaic name LP 876-10, is in for an upgrade: The researchers recommend it be rechristened Fomalhaut C.