Sunday, September 23, 2012

Conjoined Fraternal Twins

Conjoined twins used to be called ‘Siamese’ twins. They were connected somewhere; the chest, the hip, the top of the head. Sometimes they can be separated, but other times they share some vital organ that can’t be separated. Fraternal twins come from 2 different eggs, so the resulting babies are not identical.
But what I really want to talk about is this cool binary star system I heard about a few weeks ago. When you want to write science fiction, you have to try to keep up with science, so I dip into that huge pool of information every chance I get.
I already knew about binary stars. Two stars orbit some spot between them. But this particular binary star system had stars that were far closer than any that had been found before. Really close!
The stars were not identical; one was larger, the other smaller. That’s pretty common with binary stars, so let’s call them fraternal twins.
But when the astrophysicists studied the ‘output’ of this particular pair of stars, expecting them to have different brightness because of the difference in size, they found that the smaller star had the same corona signature as its big brother. These two stars are actually sharing corona matter! To me, that says ‘conjoined’.
Who would have ever believed that a pair of stars could exist so close to each other than they could share ‘skin’, and yet remain separate entities? Why doesn’t their mutual gravity make them merge into one star? They have to be racing around each other at a super speed in order for that outward force to counter-balance the gravity.
Now I’m wondering, ‘Are these stars still spheroid?’ Or are they mis-shapened by the horrendous forces they must contend with every second? And if they are mis-shapened, what shape are they? Teardrops with the points aimed at each other? Or are they oblate spheroids, spheres that have been squashed?
The neat thing about science is that it doesn’t just answer questions, it raises even more questions for you to ponder. I’m going to speculate about this particular pair of conjoined fraternal twins for some time.

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