Invisible Stars Bending Space-Time with Gravity

Researchers at the Astronomical Observatory of the University of Warsaw have recently discovered two previously invisible stars deep within the Milky Way. These binary stars (two stars that effectively orbit each other) were found thanks to a star called Gaia16aye that is considerably farther away. A few years ago, astronomers noticed that Gaia16aye would occasionally “flash” for a day or so and then go back to its normal brightness without initiating a supernova. It wasn’t until this past January that it was determined that these flashes were due to gravitational lensing from the aforementioned binary stars that are not bright enough to be seen from Earth. Although dim, these two stars are still massive enough to create multiple pockets of magnification that allow us to get a brighter look at Gaia16aye. Even though they are completely invisible to us, scientists are still able to determine almost everything about them thanks to the effects of gravitational lensing. This is exciting news because if gravitational lensing events like this one can show previously invisible stars, astronomers might be able to uncover even sweeter scores (like black holes) within our very own Milky Way galaxy. Space, baby!

3 thoughts on “Invisible Stars Bending Space-Time with Gravity

  1. The idea of giant celestial objects being not only the purpose of research but also as a tool to enhance our understanding of the universe is very interesting to me. Gravitational lensing is pretty mind-boggling but super interesting. Do you know of any other research that is using gravitational lensing to see distant objects?

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  2. Alex, this is so exciting! It’s crazy to think that there are things out there that we just can’t see. Who knows what we might find next! The potential that gravitational lensing has to make these new discoveries is mind blowing.

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  3. It’s amazing to me that science and technology has gone so far as to allow us to see things that are not only invisible, but many many light years away! I wonder how many more stars are out there that we just cannot see. If this number is comparable to the number of stars that we can see, how would this change the scientific community?

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