Astronomers: a hundred stars disappeared to God knows where

Comparing photos of the sky taken at different times, scientists have found hundreds of objects that suddenly melted like smoke. Astronomers have yet to find an explanation. And they plan to continue to seek the involvement of volunteers, and artificial intelligence.

Details are set out in a scientific paper published in Astronomical Journal.

In ancient times the sky was considered eternal and unchanging, in opposition to the vain and transitory human life. Now we know that heaven is changeable. Some stars change luminosity thousands of times, through six months to a year to restore its luster. Others end their lives in supernova explosions. Others face each other. The sky is full of transient events, and not all of them have an explanation.

Recently launched VASCO, or Vanishing and Appearing Sources during a Century of Observations (“Vanishing and emerging within a century of observations”) aims to find out how different the starry sky over the last century. In this undertaking, astronomers compare the star catalogues compiled in the twentieth century, modern, and looking for discrepancies.

“VASCO has a great potential for the detection of rare extremely volatile objects. The latter can shed light on the fast, hard observable phases of stellar evolution and active galactic nuclei,” says co-author with Sebastian Komeron (Sbastien Comern) from the University of Oulu in Finland.

In this study, the experts took as a starting point 600 million objects from the USNO B1 catalogue.0. It is the result of more than 50 years of observations, the first of which made in the late 1940-ies. The list includes objects with brightness down to 21st magnitude visible.

This list the scientists compared the data directory of contemporary Pan-STARR DR1. It includes much more dull close to the 23rd magnitude visible. That is, every star in USNO B1.0, must be at the Pan-STARR DR1.

Abouthowever, there it was. The computer has detected in the first directory of more than 150 thousand stars, for whom the second was not the object with the same or almost the same coordinates.

there has been a difference of not more than thirty seconds of arc. By the way, this “window” takes into account errors in determining the position of the lights made when cataloging, and possible displacement of the star in the sky during the time elapsed between the two surveys.

it is Interesting that these 150 thousand objects had a more red hue and was moving faster across the sky than stars from the USNO B1 catalogue.0 on average.

a Bright light, observed in the picture (left) is not detected at a later photo (on the right).Illustration of Villarroel et al. (2019).

of Course, manually check for 150 thousand objects – an impossible task for a small research group. Therefore, the authors automatically took about 24 thousand stars from USNO B1.0, for which the next candidate for the identification of Pan-STARR DR1 were just too far away. To understand what they are dealing with, astronomers have studied the experienced eye of the original photo on the basis of which these lights when something in the catalogue USNO B1.0.

When the team culled many images as possible defective, there are about six thousand candidates. Then astronomers just in case, threw the objects, situated on the edge of the image. As a result there are around hundreds of stars (or objects that are visually indistinguishable from the stars), which was once in the sky, but disappeared to who knows where.

Curiously, however, not all of them were extremely dull. Some lights showed a brightness thousands of times higher than the minimum for the USNO B1.0, that did not stop them to disappear.

What could it be? Version that a romantic regularly promised the lady to remove a star from the sky and punctually fulfilled his promises, is unlikely to suit the researchers.

May disappearvshie of objects is generally not light, and very distant supernova. It is also possible that the stars, too dim even for a more contemporary catalogue of the Pan-STARR DR1, for some reason temporarily increase its luster so to get to USNO B1.0. Finally, it may not be in brightness, and abnormally rapid motion of the stars across the sky. That is, some stars may over the past decade, flew much farther than expected.

At the same time we cannot exclude more exotic explanations. So, theorists many years discussing the model of “failed supernovae”. Such a star becomes a black hole almost no flash, and to an observer it looks as if she just disappeared. However, it is still not installed, how real is this scenario.

the Authors are not discounting the most romantic option: the activities of aliens who have left their star spheres for energy collection. However, extraordinary hypotheses require extraordinary evidence. Until they are discarded more likely scenario, the opening astroengineering structures however.

Now the authors are looking to check out the rest of 126 thousand pre-candidates for “missing”. They hope to invite volunteers from among the lovers of science, and artificial intelligence.

the word “Conduct.Science” ( repeatedly wrote about the cosmic flashes of different nature. For example, we talked about new star and the destruction of stars and supermassive black holes. We talked about the star whose bizarre behavior has generated the most tempting hypothesis.

Stay up to date with the latest news of science, subscribe to our groups in social networks: VK, Facebook, Twitter, Odnoklassniki. We have in Yandex.Zen.

Text: To.Science