Low-mass stars in binary stars appear to behave like high-mass, evolved stars

Astronomers Steve Howell of the University of California, Riverside and Thomas E. Harrison and Heather Osborne of New Mexico State University have found from their observations of over a dozen mass-losing stars in ‘cataclysmic variables’ that most of the secondary stars do not appear to be normal main sequence stars in terms of their apparent abundances. To various degrees, each star seems to have low to no carbon and other odd mixtures of elements such as sodium and calcium, the astronomers announced today at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Nashville, Tenn.

Virtual observatory prototype produces surprise discovery

A new approach to finding undiscovered objects buried in immense astronomical databases has produced an early and unexpected payoff: a new instance of a hard-to-find type of star known as a brown dwarf. Scientists working to create the National Virtual Observatory (NVO), an online portal for astronomical research unifying dozens of large astronomical databases, confirmed discovery of the new brown dwarf recently. The star emerged from a computerized search of information on millions of astronomical objects in two separate astronomical databases. Thanks to an NVO prototype, that search, formerly an endeavor requiring weeks or months of human attention, took approximately two minutes.