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AR Sco contains a rapidly spinning, burnt-out stellar remnant called a white dwarf, which lashes its neighbour – a red dwarf - with powerful beams of electrical particles and radiation, causing the entire system to brighten and fade dramatically twice every two minutes.
The latest research establishes that the lash of energy from AR Sco is a focused ‘beam’, emitting concentrated radiation in a single direction – much like a particle accelerator – something which is totally unique in the known universe.
With an electromagnetic field 100 million times more powerful than Earth, and spinning on a period just shy of two minutes, AR Sco produces lighthouse-like beams of radiation and particles, which lash across the face of the cool star, a red dwarf.
As the researchers previously discovered, this powerful light house effect accelerates electrons in the atmosphere of the red dwarf to close to the speed of light, an effect never observed before in similar types of binary stars. The red dwarf is thus powered by the kinetic energy of its spinning neighbour.
Professor Boris Gänsicke comments: "AR Sco is like a gigantic dynamo: a magnet, size of the Earth, with a field that is ~10.000 stronger than any field we can produce in a laboratory, and it is rotating every two minutes. This generates an enormous electric current in the companion star, which then produces the variations in the light we detect."