Maltese researcher discovers a variable star in the Alpha Persei Cluster

That’s a new variable star! The star known as ‘Cl Melotte 20 523’ is the 523rd star that has been formerly identified as a member of the Melotte 20 star cluster. However, until a few days ago, the star was not known to be a variable star until Mr. Stephen M. Brincat discovered it to be so from his rooftop observatory in San Gwann.

The open cluster, ‘Melotte 20’ is more popularly known as the Alpha Persei star cluster where the brightest members of the cluster surround the brightest star of the constellation Perseus. The Alpha Persei cluster can be seen without any optical aid and is quite spectacular through binoculars as several of the brighter cluster members can be seen within the field of view. Cl Melotte 20 523 that shines as a 10.7 magnitude star, can be easily seen with a small telescope, or captured through a DSLR camera with a standard lens.

The variability of this star was monitored from Mr. Brincat’s observation site through photometric means over a period of three nights. The results divulged a cyclic variability in its brightness of 102.8 minutes. Additional data gathered from professional surveys substantiated the results he obtained that permitted him to confirm the established period. The colour index of the star along with the light curve shape and derived period allowed me to conclude that Cl Melotte 20 523 is a bluish-white star that belongs to a subclass of young pulsating stars known as Delta Scuti stars. As a result, after a review period, the new variable star was officially recognized and given the variable star ID: 000-BPG-960 by the American Association of Variable Star Observers. 

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