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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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  • Re:Neutron star, or? (Score:3, Informative)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @04:55PM (#47167375) Homepage Journal

    Nerds are supposed to be self-loathing.

    But reddit is a gigantic blight on the internet and and I'm pro-shitting all over them, anytime.

  • Re:within? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @05:11PM (#47167479)

    The star in question is a ball gravitationally bound of gas that has a reasonably well defined perimeter, with a neutron star (a ball of also gravitationally bound degenerate matter) orbiting it at some distance.

    The neutron star which was orbiting the other star, is now (due to the first star expanding as it transitions to the red giant stage) within the perimeter of the first star.

    So in other words: the same damn definition of "inside" you use for things in every day life, what's to not understand?

  • Re: within? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Dishwasha (125561) on Wednesday June 04, 2014 @07:16PM (#47168115)

    Imagine you are just standing there and then WHAM! a very large soap bubble slams in to you and all of a sudden you are inside the bubble and the bubble happened to close in around you without popping. You are now inside the bubble and you are still a distinguishable unit of matter detectable from the bubble you're now inside.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir

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