Twins can be close, and that goes for stars as well as people. In some cases, stars get so close that they merge--and new research by astronomers in Spain suggests that's just what's happening with the binary star system known as MY Camelopardalis.
Located in a small star cluster about 13,000 light-years from Earth, MY Cam is one of the biggest binary systems out there. One of its hot blue stars is 32 times more massive than the sun, the other 38 times more massive.
But a new analysis of observations made using Spain's Calar Alto Observatory shows that the stars are so close that the material in their outer layers is mixing (see illustration above), according to a written statement released by the University of Alicante. Ultimately, the research suggests, the stars--now orbiting each other at high speed--will merge to form a single star of stupendous size.
It's not clear how long the merger will take, or what will happen when it does. One possibility is that the merged star will explosively release a vast quantity of energy. Whatever happens, astronomers expect the merged star to be a giant with roughly 60 times the mass of the sun. And that's a very big deal.
A paper describing the research was published online Dec. 4 in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.