A rare double star system has been spotted in the Milky Way.
Scientists used NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the National Science Foundation’s Karl F. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) to spot the double, or binary, star system. The system is located in Terzan 5, a dense cluster of stars about 20,000 light-years from Earth.
In this image of Terzan 5 (right), low, medium and high-energy X-rays detected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory are colored red, green and blue respectively. On the left, an image from the Hubble Space Telescope shows the same field of view in optical light.
A light-year, which measures distance in space, equals about 6 trillion miles.
NASA has compared the system to a cosmic “Jekyll and Hyde.”
“Using nearly a decade and a half worth of Chandra data, researchers noticed that a stellar duo behaved like one type of object before switching its identity, and then returning to its original state after a few years,” NASA said in a statement. “This is a rare example of a star system changing its behavior in this way.”
The double-star system, Terzan 5 CX1, consists of a neutron star in close orbit around a star similar to the Sun, which possesses less mass, according to NASA.
The rare double star system is just the latest in recent cosmic discoveries. In a separate project, a 77-year-old amateur astronomer helped discover a rare galaxy double nucleus.
NASA also recently announced that a 17-year-old summer intern made an incredible planet discovery.
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