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Astronomers discover new star

india Updated: Dec 12, 2009 11:32 IST

Astronomers have reportedly discovered a faint star orbiting the Big Dipper — Alcor B — using a novel technique known to 17th century astronomer and scientist Galileo. According to a new paper published in The Astrophysical Journal, one of the stars that makes the bend in the ladle's handle, Alcor, has a smaller red dwarf companion.

The newly discovered Alcor B orbits its larger sibling Alcor and was caught in the act with an innovative technique called ‘common parallactic motion’ by members of Project 1640, an international collaborative team that includes astrophysicists at the American Museum of Natural History, the University of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, the California Institute of Technology, and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

“We used a brand new technique for determining that an object orbits a nearby star, a technique that's a nice nod to Galileo,” said Ben R Oppenheimer, Curator and Professor in the Department of Astrophysics at the Museum.