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Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized 72

derekmead writes: After 40 years, astronomers have likely found a rather strange celestial body known as a Thorne–Zytkow object (TZO), in which a neutron star is absorbed by a red supergiant. Originally predicted in the 1970s, the first non-theoretical TZO was found earlier this year, based on calculations presented in a paper forthcoming in MNRAS.

TZOs were predicted by astronomer Kip Thorne and Anna Zytkow, who wasthen postdoctoral fellow at CalTech. The pair imagined what might happen if a neutron star in a binary system merged with its partner red supergiant. This wouldn't be like two average stars merging. Neutron stars are the ancient remnants of stars that grew too big and exploded. Their cores remain small — about 12.5 miles across — as they shed material out into space. Red supergiants are the largest stars in the galaxy, with radii up to 800 times that of our sun, but they aren't dense.
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Astronomers Find Star-Within-a-Star, 40 Years After First Theorized

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  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:01PM (#47920913) Homepage Journal

    Just imagine a block of the most dense visible thing in the universe crashing into a star so large you could fit a good chunk of the inner solar system in.

    I can't be the only person who'd want to watch that firework display.

    • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:13PM (#47921063) Homepage Journal
      I was thinking the same thing, it would be an interesting event to witness. The only sad thing about living when we do, is we will never get to watch solar collisions from under 100 AU.
      • I think it would take too long. Even if the explosion was relativistic it would still be days in the unfolding, wouldn't it? An explosion worth looking at would be weeks? Months in the unfolding? I guess I'm asking as mush as saying.

        But no matter, I have a method to see the whole thing in a couple of hours. You.. just.. fly towards it at relativistic speeds, compressing the 'video stream' into a fast forward. You can run it as fast as you can go. You'll need a fancy screen to downsample the view, as what sh

      • The only sad thing about living when we do, is we will never get to watch solar collisions from under 100 AU.

        Given that the only star within 100AU is our sun and we are rather reliant on that continuing in a very stable way for our continued existence "sad" is not exactly the word I would use.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Hmm ... interesting to think about. A red giant is much bigger than our sun, yes, but its mass is typically similar. Think of it as red-hot vacuum, except for the core. But as the neutron star fell into it, it would draw out a visible tendril of material - and when that tendril touched the neutron star, *then* you'd see fireworks. Gravitational accretion is more efficient than fusion at releasing energy: you'd see a point of bright blue light (peaking in x-rays) at the neutron star, with the pressure of

  • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:08PM (#47920995)
    Sounds like a mixed-drink with specific gravity setup...
  • Yo (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:10PM (#47921011)

    Yo Dawg, we heard you like stars.

  • by jovius ( 974690 ) on Tuesday September 16, 2014 @04:15PM (#47921087)
    • with in a post - within a post - within a post - (it's posts all the way down!)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Yeah, but that one was posted by Soulskill 3 months ago, and this one is posted by... Oh, I see now, is the same 3-seconds-attention-span gold fish....

  • Shit people, the Oncier [] experiment with the Klikiss torch was the beginning of a fucking mess with the Hydrogues. Some race or two, somewhere, are gonna get annihilated over that.

  • Yo dawg... I heard you like shining. So I put a star inside your star, so you can shine while you shine.
  • you are....Rolling Stones. TFA said star within a star.
  • by jd ( 1658 )

    If Kip Thorne can win a year's worth of Playboys for his bet that Cygnus X1 was a Black Hole, when current theory from Professor Hawking says Black Holes don't really exist, then can Professor Thorne please give me a year's subscription to the porno of my choice due to the non-existent bet that this wasn't such a star?

  • All he had to say was, "Oh my god, it's full of stars" and the line went dead.
  • ... and it took all of three seconds to find the article-within-the-article. Star Within a Star: Thorne-Zytkow Object Discovered (04 June 2014) []
  • Their cores remain small — about 12.5 miles across

    Looks like a vague "20km" gained a couple of orders of magnitude in precision (2 extra significant figures).
    This is bad journalism even when its not science.

    "Mr Smith was reported as saying 'You look like 772,000 Euros!'"

  • You have a few stars worth of neutornium the size of a big asteroid or maybe a small moon moving towards a red giant that is perhaps similar in mass to our own sun.

    I can buy that eventually the one ends up inside the other. What I wonder about is how you get from a neutron star falling towards a red giant to a neutron star inside a red giant.

    I'd think the neutron star would have so much momentum that it would basically blast right through the star and come out the other side.

    Of course, a more likely scenar

    • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

      Hate to self reply, but think of it like shooting a rifle round at a blimp. The bullet is going to just sail right through both sides, with neither object being affected all that much.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.