An international team of astronomers using Hubble have been able to study stellar evolution in real time. Over a period of 30 years dramatic increases in the temperature of the star SAO 244567 have been observed. Now the star is cooling again, having been reborn into an earlier phase of stellar evolution. This makes it the first reborn star to have been observed during both the heating and cooling stages of rebirth.
Even though the Universe is constantly changing, most processes are too slow to be observed within a human lifespan. But now an international team of astronomers have observed an exception to this rule. “SAO 244567 is one of the rare examples of a star that allows us to witness stellar evolution in real time”, explains Nicole Reindl from the University of Leicester, UK, lead author of the study. “Over only twenty years the star has doubled its temperature and it was possible to watch the star ionising its previously ejected envelope, which is now known as the Stingray Nebula.”
SAO 244567, 2700 light-years from Earth, is the central star of the Stingray Nebula and has been visibly evolving between observations made over the last 45 years. Between 1971 and 2002 the surface temperature of the star skyrocketed by almost 40 000 degrees Celsius. Now new observations made with the Cosmic Origins Spectrograph (COS) on the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have revealed that SAO 244567 has started to cool and expand. … (Hubble/STScI)