Department of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics
Faculty of Science
Masaryk University

Astronomers from Brno observe in South Africa

Brno, 30 May 2016

Astronomers from Masaryk University use for their observation telescopes around the world. During the three-week internship at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO, Sutherland, South Africa) they were devoted to research of close binary stars with very short orbital period. The development of such systems is still somewhat a mystery. The latest measurements from SAAO should also contribute to the clarification.

Doc. Miloslav Zejda, head of the observation, together with doctoral student Mgr. Lenka Janeková worked 21 days on SAAO astronomical observatory in South Africa. Their observation was based on measuring changes in brightness of selected variables. This year they used the telescope with a mirror diameter of 1 meter with highly sensitive CCD camera.

Most of the stars in the universe is not solitary, like our Sun, but lives in pairs. During their life, a situation may occur that both stars fill the space, which are in binary star available (ie. Roche lobe), resulting in a contact binary. Most binaries, monitored during the stay at SAAO is formed by pairs of low-mass, cool red dwarfs. Only exceptionally the orbital period of the binary stars is less than 5.5 hours.

Satisfactory explanation of the existence of this border is still missing. To clarify the mystery new measurements under doc. Zejda should help. From the measured changes in brightness it is possible to determine the parameters of studied binaries, their components and the surrounding interstellar medium. Data interpretation will address both astrophysicists from Masaryk University, and their colleagues from China. Scientists predict that the results will help to better understanding of the evolution of close binaries and contribute to yet unsolved problems such as revelation causes limitations in orbital period or determine the role of magnetic fields in touch binaries.

Contact to head of observations: doc. Miloslav Zejda,

Mgr. Lenka Zychová,