The strange Eclipsing Star: A 200-year-old Mystery Solved

Epsilon Aurigae – the bright winter star has puzzled astronomers for nearly 200 years over its peculiar dimming process. With the aid of precise measurements of distance by the Gaia satellite of the European Space Agency, scientists have been able to pin down on the mass of the two stars, both involved in the process, and the way exchange of material happens between them that was the cause of the decade-long eclipses visible from Earth. 

At an interval of every 27 years, Epsilon Aurigae gets dimmed for two years. Whether it was a cloud of meteors, or another star, or maybe the black hole or some disk of materials, was what scientists have speculated over the years before the recent findings. With the recent last eclipse in 2010, scientists suspected that it could be a system consisting of two stars that are surrounded by a thick cloud of dust and gas, but the nature of the pairing of both the stars still is a mystery. 

The debate has been ongoing for a long time, and astronomers like Gerard Kuiper and Otto Struve have weighed on it. Robert Stencel, an astronomer at the University of Denver in the 232nd American Astronomical Society meeting, mentioned saying that what the heck this opaque is? Stencel along with Justus Gibson, a student at the University of Denver, used the new data of Gaia to model the pairs that might be responsible for producing the external signals which were observed by the Epsilon Aurigae’s system. All credits to the Gaia, Stencel and Gibson found that the system of the binary star is much smaller than previously estimated and the exchange between the two is ongoing. 

In a statement Stencel said that the system is a very active system, where the F-star is consistently boiling off, and its companion star is grabbing all its material, thereby, producing a sizeable dusty disk. He also mentioned that F type stars are slightly warmer and more significant than that of the sun. 

Johann Fritsch, the German amateur astronomer, first noticed in 1821 that Epsilon Aurigae has turned two and a half times less bright from Earth’s perspective on the astronomical scale as compared to the year earlier and then slowly got back to its original previous brightness. Many curious studied the star’s phenomenon in 1848 and then in 1876, and finally labeled it as an object of the random variable, the single star changing its brightness. 

Again in 1903, astronomers closely studied the star, tracking a decline over six months in brightness accompanied by a constant state of dimness for about a year. It took another six months to return to its original state. Astronomers then determined the star, with a radius almost 3,000 times larger than the sun, making it the most significant known star of the universe.