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Two Stars Caught Fusing into One

from Science News

For stellar astronomers, "the two shall become one flesh" just took on a whole new meaning.

Scientists have directly observed for the first time the merger of two closely orbiting stars. Experts have suggested for decades that such stars--which whirl so close to each other that their outer layers actually touch--should ultimately commingle. The new work, by Romuald Tylenda of the Nicolaus Copernicus Astronomical Center in Torun, Poland and collaborators, catches the stars in the act.

The researchers' claim of catching the stars in the act is "not just plausible; it's compelling," says Robert Williams of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, who was not involved in the study. The results, to appear in an upcoming Astronomy & Astrophysics, add to previous work by Williams and colleagues to understand the nature of the star pair, called V1309 Scorpii.

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