Next big star won’t be signed by Capshaw
Actually it's the offspring of fledgling Charlottesville astrophysicist Michael Kuhn and beta Crucis, the small but bright star that forms the left tip of the Southern Cross – you know, the drunken sister of Cassiopeia that appears on the Australian and Brazilian flags and was immortalized in the 1980 Crosby, Stills, and Nash song.
Kuhn, currently a senior at Swarthmore, works for associate professor of Astronomy David Cohen, whose team of researchers unveiled the discovery of the previously undetected and as-yet-unnamed heavenly body at a Seattle meeting of the American Astronomical Society in early January.
The group discovered the star by accident while observing beta Crucis with an orbiting x-ray telescope. "We were surprised to see two strong x-ray sources where we had expected to see only one," explains Cohen.
"We looked for variability in the x-ray brightness," adds Kuhn, "beta Crucis is incredibly bright, it would completely wash out the entire surrounding area. The light from beta Crucis would be completely dominant and we weren't able to see this other source on top of it."