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Star-within-a-star Thorne-Żytkow object discovered

There's nothing like a NEW KIND OF STAR to really spark my sense of wonder.

Astronomers Discover A Weird "Stellar Hybrid" — A Star Within A Star


An exotic 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 Żytkow, 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-Żytkow object (or TŻO). 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-Żytkow 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.


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