It’s not easy to weigh a star, but an international team of astronomers has done just that.
They’ve measured the masses of both stars in an odd binary star system some 25,000 light-years from Earth-and gauged the space-time warp resulting from the system’s intense gravitation.
“Our result is important because weighing stars while they freely float through space is exceedingly difficult,” Dr. Joeri van Leeuwen, a University of Amsterdam astrophysicist and the leader of the team, said in a written statement.
It features a fast-spinning neutron star, or pulsar, in orbit around another star that is believed to be either another neutron star or a white dwarf. Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known to exist. Each of the stars in the system is more massive than our sun, and they are 100 times nearer to each other than the Earth is to the sun.
Its companion star is about 1.32 times as massive as the sun.