Published #1 – Vampire stars

In the cold dead of the night, even in the scurry of a hundred street lights, an orange star shines brightly above the belt, on the Hunter’s right shoulder. A red supergiant on the verge of exploding into a supernova, Betelgeuse is a true enigma.

Betelgeuse is twenty times larger than our sun, so massive that in the sun’s place, it could very well swallow up the earth. Such a massive star should spin slowly as when size increases, the rotation rate should decrease. But that is not the case with the red giant, a 2016 study says. It’ spinning faster than it actually should. Why? The study speculates that a 100 thousand years ago, Betelgeuse may have gobbled up its companion star about the size of our sun, transferring the angular momentum of the companion star to the giant and thus securing its ultra-fast rotation. Betelgeuse may well be, a vampire star.

Stars don’t live alone. They live in clusters. They are born from the same clouds of gas and dust. They live and age together in the same cluster. Some of them share their gravitational field with a companion star, near or far away from them and they exist as binary systems. They rotate and traverse their orbit and sometimes when in a straight line with their companion, eclipse the other. It’s a beautiful relationship.

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Artist’s impression of a vampire star and its companion star. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada/S.E. de Mink

In some of these binary pairs, where one orbits the other or in a shared gravitational field where they orbit close together, there is a possibility that these two stars could merge. There is also the chance of the low mass companion star pulling off materials from the surface of the larger star, rejuvenating itself, smiling blue and younger defying age. The low mass star is dubbed a vampire star. This may have what happened a 100,000 years ago when Betelgeuse became a red star or not. For all we know now, Betelgeuse is a single star.

A soul tie fashions between two stars in a binary system and the low mass star strips off material from the surface of its companion star. The low mass star and its companion now become hotter, younger versions of themselves. One sacrifices to make the other better. Though infamously called as a vampire star and its victim, the stars tell a tale of true friendship, a tale of the oneness of two kindred souls.

The hunter and the dog

You might have probably been thrown off by the title or not.Short story short, this is not a short story or a fable by Aesop.

Am I being a bit presumptuous?

The hunter and the dog aka Orion and Cansa major , finally came into the view of my brains and eyes,of course?

Is that a dog? Is that a head? Is that a what in the heavens not? So goes my head in all of my star gazing sessions. Ani would point at some bright speck in the sky and claim it to be Jupiter. My head would whirl and I’d have no idea how she knew. How do you know a planet from a star? How do you know it’s Jupiter and not Venus? So goes my list of questions. My inability to make out farther than Orion’s belt has thinned into air this december.

It’s the season to be jolly, la la la la lalala…. 

I was back home in kerala where the skies are clear, the water green and the soil rich. The starry sky lit up in all its glory and I summoned up the courage to go up the terrace in the dark with my kid brother.It was dark and I could hear the faint murmour of the seas, the light house lights went sweeping about the sky and straight up lying down, the stars themselves looked down upon me and my eyes met them. The belt, the shoulders, the legs and the arrow and Betelguese shining orange at me. Jupiter shone down and Sirius, the brightest smiled. Orion and Cansa major, I could see.Ecstatic, I pointed em all out to Sam and he was thrilled and right at that moment, a shooting star sped along Orion’s belt making it the best night among many nights.

Planets don’t twinkle, stars do. Planets are way brighter than stars. Get a diagram of the constellation and look up Orion,you will know how easy it is. The position of the constellations changes with time and you can tell time by their positions and that is how the ancients knew to tell time. Sailors told time by knowing the positions of the constellations and now, I know.😊  Venus is the bright evening star visible from 6:45 to 8 something. Jupiter appears from 8 to 10 something. And now, you know too 😊.

From some damn stupid essay that I read in ug that there is beauty in ignorance, that there is some magic to not knowing the names of all the flowers out there and when spring comes you learn it all anew and forget, I thought ignorance was bliss. But I was wrong, atleast in my case, there is a beauty in knowing, when I look up at the starry sky and my heart sings that I know two of those stars by name and I know where they are, my heart sings in joy for He hung up each of the stars and called them each by name and I know two of  them up in the sky 😀. There is a beauty in knowing.There is beauty in wisdom. This is treasure and digging it up is pleasure.

I flew back to sharjah today and before the descent, when we were up in the sky, I saw Jupiter shining in all its glory on the starred city. A thousand lights glimmered in the sea and I sunk in the pleasure of knowing.

So, I guess this is a lesson learnt and this post short of an Aesop’s fable, after all.

Moral of the story: Don’t feign ignorance, dig up treasure aka knowledge.