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Home >Science >Astronomers identify appearing, disappearing stars

Astronomers identify appearing, disappearing stars

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Astronomers are yet to find the root cause of nine simultaneous transients. (Photo: Reuters)

  • Astronomers collaborating across counties track vanishing and appearing celestial objects by comparing old images of the night sky with new, register unnatural phenomena, and probe deep into such phenomena to record changes in the universe

NEW DELHI: An international collaboration of astronomers, including scientists from India, has identified a curious occurrence of nine stars like objects that appeared and vanished in a small region within half an hour in an old photographic plate.

NEW DELHI: An international collaboration of astronomers, including scientists from India, has identified a curious occurrence of nine stars like objects that appeared and vanished in a small region within half an hour in an old photographic plate.

Scientists from Sweden, Spain, the US, Ukraine, and India investigated an early form of photography that used glass plates to capture images of the night sky from the 12th of April 1950, exposed at Palomar Observatory in California, US, and detected these transient stars which were not to be found in photographs taken half an hour later and have not been traced since then.

Scientists from Sweden, Spain, the US, Ukraine, and India investigated an early form of photography that used glass plates to capture images of the night sky from the 12th of April 1950, exposed at Palomar Observatory in California, US, and detected these transient stars which were not to be found in photographs taken half an hour later and have not been traced since then.

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This simultaneous disappearance of objects has been detected for the first time in the history of astronomy, the ministry of science and technology said in a statement.

Astronomers collaborating across counties track vanishing and appearing celestial objects by comparing old images of the night sky with new modern one, register unnatural phenomena, and probe deep into such phenomena to record changes in the universe.

Astronomers have not found any explanation in well-established astrophysical phenomena like gravitational lensing, fast radio bursts, or any variable star that could be responsible for this cluster of fast changes in the sky.

Alok C. Gupta, scientist from Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), Nainital, an autonomous institution of the Department of Science and Technology (DST), participated in this study which was published in Nature's "Scientific Reports".

The study led by Beatriz Villarroel of Nordic Institute of Theoretical Physics, Stockholm, Sweden, and Spain's Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias, used the 10.4 m Gran Telescopio Canarias--the largest optical telescope around the world--at Canary Islands, Spain, to do deep second epoch observations. The team hoped to find a counterpart at the position of every object that had appeared and vanished on the plate. Counterparts found are not necessarily physically connected to the weird objects.

Scientists are still exploring what cause the transient stars and are not sure about what triggered their appearance and disappearance. “The only thing we can say with certainty is that these images contain star-like objects that should not be there. We do not know why they are there," said Alok C. Gupta.

The astronomers who belong to the collaboration Vanishing and Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations (VASCO) have still not sorted out the root cause of the “nine simultaneous transients". They are now eager to look for more signatures of solar reflections in these digitized data from the 1950s in a hope to find aliens.

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