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Indian Astronomers Make Headlines with Major Variable Star Discovery in NGC 381

Variable stars are celestial objects that change in brightness over time

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Aditya Saikrishna
Aditya Saikrishna
I am 21 years old and an avid Motorsports enthusiast.

INDIA: Indian Astronomers made the global news with major variable star discovery in NGC 381.

Total of 57 variable stars have been found in NGC 381

According to researchers from India’s Physical Research Laboratory and the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), 57 variable stars have been found in the NGC 381 open cluster field. 

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The team of researchers published a paper detailing the discovery on the arXiv preprint server on December 19. Open clusters (OCs) are groups of stars loosely gravitationally bound to one another and formed from the same enormous molecular cloud. 

Over 1,000 OCs have been found in the Milky Way so far, and researchers are still looking for more in the hope of finding a variety of these stellar clusters. 

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Elaborating and gaining a more profound knowledge of the list of known galactic OCs and conducting in-depth research on them could be essential to better understanding our galaxy’s formation and evolution.

Variable star detection and research, particularly in OC environments, may provide crucial insights into the stellar structure and evolutionary aspects. It is also helpful for expanding our understanding of the universe’s distance scale.

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NGC 381—also known as Collinder 10, is a sparse open cluster of intermediate age with a radius of 15 light years and a mass of approximately 32.4 solar masses. The 3,700 light-years away in the Cassiopeia constellation. 

Although NGC 381 has been the subject of numerous investigations, very little is known about the number of variable stars in it.

Due to the lack of knowledge about the stellar cluster, a group of astronomers led by Jayanand Maurya of ARIES carried out the first study of NGC 381 and its surroundings’ variability. 

The researchers used the 1.3-m Devasthal Fast Optical Telescope (DFOT) in India to study the stellar cluster.

The study found that 10 of the 57 variable stars identified are eclipsing binaries, eight of which are of the W UMa type (EW) and two of the Algol type (EA). 

In addition, there are two pulsating variable stars—one of the Delta Scuti type and one of the Gamma Doradus type—and fifteen rotational variable stars in the sample.

There was no way to categorize the remaining thirty variables; They were therefore referred to as “miscellaneous type variables” by the researchers. 

According to the paper’s authors, the characterization of these variables requires a spectroscopic study and additional time-series data.

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