Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Ross 614 binary

Ross 614 is a binary system of red dwarfs visible in the constellation Monoceros. The two stars of the system are among the smallest and less massive discovered to date.

Ross 614 is just 13.3 light years away from Earth. Despite being so close, the two stars that compose it are invisible to the naked eye (the image of the post is an artistic representation).

The main component of the system is in fact 2100 times less luminous than the Sun and appears to be of eleventh apparent magnitude. Its mass is 20% of that of the sun and its diameter is a quarter of that of our star.

The secondary is even smaller than the primary. It is in fact 63,000 times less luminous than the Sun and appears to be of 14th apparent magnitude. Its diameter is one-tenth of that of the Sun and its mass is just 0.08 times that of the Sun.

The secondary star in particular is at the minimum limit of mass that a star can have. If it had been lighter, in fact, it would not have presented the conditions necessary to trigger the fusion of hydrogen inside its core and would therefore have been classified as a brown dwarf (i.e. a hybrid object that is halfway between a planet and a star).

Credit: J. Pinfield.

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