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Star Within a Star: Thorne-Zytkow Object Discovered 89

Posted by Soulskill
from the russian-nesting-stars dept.
astroengine writes: "A weird type of 'hybrid' star has been discovered nearly 40 years since it was first theorized — but until now has been curiously difficult to find. In 1975, renowned astrophysicists Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., and Anna Zytkow, of the University of Cambridge, UK, assembled a theory on how a large dying star could swallow its neutron star binary partner, thus becoming a very rare type of stellar hybrid, nicknamed a Thorne-Zytkow object (or TZO). The neutron star — a dense husk of degenerate matter that was once a massive star long since gone supernova — would spiral into the red supergiant's core, interrupting normal fusion processes. According to the Thorne-Zytkow theory, after the two objects have merged, an excess of the elements rubidium, lithium and molybdenum will be generated by the hybrid. So astronomers have been on the lookout for stars in our galaxy, which is thought to contain only a few dozen of these objects at any one time, with this specific chemical signature in their atmospheres. Now, according to Emily Levesque of the University of Colorado Boulder and her team, a bona fide TZO has been discovered and their findings have been accepted for publication in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters."
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Star Within a Star: Thorne-Zytkow Object Discovered

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  • Yo Dawg (Score:4, Funny)

    by jovius (974690) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:22PM (#47167129)

    Nuff' said.

    • Re:Yo Dawg (Score:5, Funny)

      by rogoshen1 (2922505) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:34PM (#47167219)

      I'm eagerly awaiting the day when all communication on the internet can be done either via cat pictures or quoting memes

      we're getting closer and closer.

      • I'm eagerly awaiting the day when all communication on the internet can be done either via cat pictures or quoting memes

        we're getting closer and closer.

        You're welcome. [imgur.com]

        • by Trepidity (597)

          Isn't actually making the meme-image pretty superfluous in this case?

          • by Dogtanian (588974)

            Isn't actually making the meme-image pretty superfluous in this case?

            Unfortunately, given that the original "Yo Dawg" was marked as "offtopic" by twice as many people as thought it was funny, it probably *is* necessary.

            Shame, as the minimalism of the original poster's joke worked- for me- because it assumed that most of us were familiar with a long-established meme to be able to dispense with the full text (i.e. playing off its clichedness rather than it being a boring rehash of a now-tired cliche) and also that we were smart enough to figure out its relevance to the headl

      • Re:Yo Dawg (Score:5, Interesting)

        by dinfinity (2300094) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:36PM (#47167621)

        Hate to turn something funny into a serious note, but I'm pretty sure a lot (if not most) of the comments on the internet can already be predicted just by looking at the headline.

        I suggest calculating an originality score for all comments based on their similarity to all previous comments. If it could be based on all the comments you've personally encountered before, it would drastically cut down on the 'Oh god, not this bullshit again'-feeling we all have when perusing comment sections.

        On the other hand, sometimes you predict that a certain comment will have been made and feel satisfaction upon reading it.
        Maybe that's a bad thing, too.

        • by cellocgw (617879)

          Hate to turn something funny into a serious note, but I'm pretty sure a lot (if not most) of the comments on the internet can already be predicted just by looking at the headline.

          So I guess "I, for one, welcome our star-eating star overlords" is right out?

          • Although, yes, this one can be easily predicted, it does seem fairly unique: https://www.google.com/search?... [google.com]

            Which brings up the point where the implementation gets tricky. When it comes to structure and the words used it is very unoriginal, but as a whole it is very original. Perhaps naive approaches to detecting the originality of a piece of text would do more harm then good. I guess it all comes down to waiting for AI that can sufficiently understand text to determine a useful originality score.

        • Seeing the headline in my RSS feed, I checked the article's comments expecting the appropriate meme (or even just an obvious response). I find there is satisfaction, like you mentioned, in seeing not only that the reference has been made, but how well the execution of the reference was done and if any originality was put in to it. In this case, I was hoping for something along the lines "..so you can fusion while you fusion."

          Ideally for me, a reference will be made as merely a humorous hook to a serious
      • I'm eagerly the day when all communication on the internet can be done either via cat pictures or quoting memes

        we're getting closer and closer.

        FTFY. Such meta.

      • what you're looking for is called "reddit"

  • Looks like these will be well lubricated and happy about it.
  • by werepants (1912634) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:38PM (#47167251)

    "a dense husk of degenerate matter"

    Sounds like the average slashdotter. *rimshot*

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Mkay, where is the checklist of theorized star types yet to be discovered?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Mkay, where is the checklist of theorized star types yet to be discovered?

      I dunno, but if these things can form by having an envelope expand to capture a neutron star without the neutron star gathering enough mass and making it to the core without collapsing into a black hole... now I'm wondering how long it takes a black hole to devour a red giant from the inside out. Might be longer than the star's expected to remain in the red giant state, for the same reason the neutron star stays mostly undisturbed

      • Mkay, where is the checklist of theorized star types yet to be discovered?

        ... now I'm wondering how long it takes a black hole to devour a red giant from the inside out.

        Don't think Wikipedia is going to get their citation... does seem odd a black hole first then a supernova.

        If their combined mass exceeds the Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit then the two will collapse into a black hole, resulting in a supernova that disperses the outer layers of the star. Otherwise, the two will coalesce into a single neutron star.[citation needed] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]–ytkow_object

  • Lithium (Score:4, Funny)

    by rossdee (243626) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:51PM (#47167341)

    " an excess of the elements rubidium, lithium and molybdenum will be generated by the hybrid."

    Just what we need, a hybrid that makes Lithium

  • Nothing New (Score:4, Funny)

    by Waffle Iron (339739) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:09PM (#47167465)

    This "Star within a star" thing has been a phenomenon commonly known in Hollywood since the days Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

    • This "Star within a star" thing has been a phenomenon commonly known in Hollywood since the days Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks.

      Sweet little Mary Pickford would NEVER do such a thing!

  • by BradleyUffner (103496) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:10PM (#47167473) Homepage

    A place so big and fantastic where anything that is theoretically possible has probably happened hundreds or thousands, if not millions, of times.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I guess that means an honest politician is not even theoretically possible.

      • Actually I think honest politicians are probably fairly common. But as in everything, they start small, and locally, and as such things go, we, the voters, eliminated them from the race early on in favor of the politicians that tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear. The result is that the longer lived politicians, are electorally selected to favour those who tell the electorate things that have little relation to reality as opposed to the electorate's fantasy. We really shouldn't com

  • Mine it for batteries!

  • by Prune (557140) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:51PM (#47167697)
    It's not a good idea to use words one doesn't understand just because they might sound cool. A husk is a left over outer shell or covering. A neutron star derives from the inner layers and core of the original star--the summary writers could hardly have chosen a more ill-fitting word. That the degenerate matter in a neutron star is a superfluid, juxtaposed with the more specific meaning of husk as the _dried_ outer portion of a fruit or nut, takes this misuse of the word into the realm of the ludicrous.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's important to keep in mind that this is the identification of a Thorne-Zytkow *candidate*. Further study will be needed to confirm whether this is a genuine T-Z object or not - as it is actually quite difficult to tell. In terms of luminosity and temperature, such an object would appear quite similar to a normal red supergiant. The key observational clue is a peculiar abundance of Li, along with some other elements such as Rb. The authors see some of these elements in spectra they have taken, but others

  • I herd you like stars, so I put a star in your star so you can fusion while you fusion.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:26PM (#47168177)

    rubidium, lithium and molybdenum

    And strontium and silicon and silver and samarium and bismuth, bromine, helium, beryllium and barium. These are the only ones of which the news has come to Harvard--there may be many many but they haven't been discovered.

  • Um.. I thought a neutron star was mainly neutronium, with a layer of degenerate matter on top of that, and maybe a layer of normal matter on top of that?
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      Um.. I thought a neutron star was mainly neutronium, with a layer of degenerate matter on top of that, and maybe a layer of normal matter on top of that?

      Neutronium is just one type of degenerate matter.

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        Then why do we have a word to differentiate them?
        • by Rich0 (548339)

          Then why do we have a word to differentiate them?

          Differentiate what from what?

          The matter white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes composed of are fairly different from the matter we normally encounter day-to-day, and yet they're not identical to each other. In the last case we can't really be sure what it is like, lacking a well-supported theory of quantum gravity.

  • Happens to be outside our galaxy.
    Just saying.

  • "a dense husk of degenerate matter that was once a massive star long" - Lindsey Lohan?

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