This is the first in a Nature Index series of profiles about emerging early-careers researchers in Japan.
About 370 years ago, something odd happened in the binary star system SS Cygni. Normally, the interactions between the two stars that make up SS Cygni mean that it cyclically gets brighter and dimmer every month or so, but for some reason this variation stopped for a short while. When the light from that anomaly finally reached Earth in 2021, Mariko Kimura was watching.
Kimura, an astronomer at the RIKEN Cluster for Pioneering Research in Saitama, Japan, uses both ground-based optical telescopes and satellite X-ray telescopes to make sense of signals from variable stars, black holes and other celestial phenomena. “Many people think stars and galaxies are constant