Leave it to astrophysicists to think up some strange stars, many of which remain rooted firmly in theory — or even bordering on science fiction. But astronomers have announced the discovery of a Thorne-Żytkow object, potentially putting a weird “hybrid” star on the stellar map as a very real phenomenon. In 1975, astrophysicists Kip Thorne, of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, Calif., and Anna Żytkow, of the University of Cambridge, UK, published a theoretical paper in the Astrophysical Journal describing a rare, dying star with a surprise in its core. According to Thorne and Żytkow, it is possible for a red supergiant star to collide with a superdense neutron star, the remnant of a supernova, swallowing it. A red supergiant can merge with a binary partner neutron star, or that both occupied a dense globular cluster. Once the neutron star is eaten, it settles in the core of the supergiant, interrupting normal fusion processes inside the star’s guts. This, according to the theorists, should create a very specific chemical signature in the “host” star’s chemical make up. What’s more, there should be a few dozen Thorne-Żytkow object specimens in our galaxy. Read More at Discovery News.
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