Astronomers Document the Rise and Fall of a Rarely Observed Stellar Dance

Digitized Sky Survey image of HS Hydrae (center). Space Telescope Science Institute

Over the past year, James Davenport (research assistant professor, and the Associate Director of the DiRAC Institute) and his team at the University of Washington have studied the eclipsing binary system, HS Hydrae. This star is one of rare class of eclipsing systems that is changing in real time, with its eclipses starting to disappear!

Using new observations from NASA’s exoplanet-hunting TESS mission, and a historical archive of photographic plates reaching back to 1893, Davenport and his team were able to document the complete “rise and fall” of eclipses for the system due the orbit of a third, unseen star. They believe HS Hydrae is now no longer an eclipsing binary!

This work was presented in a Press Conference at the 237th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society in early 2021.

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