VVV-WIT-08: the giant star that blinked

Leigh C. Smith et al. ‘VVV-WIT-08: the giant star that blinked.’ Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (2021). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stab1211


Artist's impression of the binary star VVV-WIT-08
©University of Cambridge 

VVV-WIT-08 The Giant that Blinked

An international team leaded by Dr. Leigh Smith from Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, with astronomers from Britain, Poland, Chile, Brazil and Germany discovered this star that showed an unusual variation in brightness, which decreased in nearly 30 magnitudes for a period of two months.
This is a rare phenomena with no explanation yet, so it was named in as WIT-08, meaning that is the 8th object of unknown nature that the VVV Survey has detected.
The name WIT is an acronym of “What Is This?” and these objects give an enormous amount of work in the effort to discover the physics behind their strange light curves.
For the moment the team is exploring the possibility of a binary system with a star 100 times larger than the Sun, eclipsed every ~10 years by a companion of unknown nature.