NASA's flying telescope
SOFIA has been watching a dance between two stars orbiting each other as they approach the moment of eclipse
SOFIA has observed the
binary star R Aquarii, located in the constellation Aquarius some 720 light-years away from Earth
It is observing since 2018,
when the smaller of the two stars in the system started eclipsing the brighter star from the perspective of Earth.
Astronomers believe that
the smaller of the two stars is a white dwarf, a dim, cooling remnant of a star that has run out of fuel.
The brighter of the two
stars in the R Aquarii binary is a type of pulsating star called a Mira variable, which dims and brightens over a relatively long period of time of 387 Earth days.
As SOFIA turned its
gaze to R Aquarii, the binary star was not only going through the eclipse but also nearing its periastron the moment when the two bodies are at their shortest distance from each other.