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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Speeding Star Was Born on the Run
22 July 2010 2:53 pm
The Energizer bunny has nothing on HE 0437-5439. This massive blue star should have burnt out tens of millions of years ago, but it's still going strong. The mystery has puzzled astronomers ever since they discovered the big star, which has zoomed well beyond the boundaries of the Milky Way, in 2005. They knew that the black hole at the center of our galaxy must have ejected it; otherwise it could never have traveled so far so fast. But because the journey took 100 million years, and hot blue stars only live about a third that long, the star should have gone kaput long ago. The explanation, astronomers report this week in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, is that HE 0437-5439 wasn't always a blue star. According to their calculations, it actually started out as a couple of run-of-the-mill yellow stars like our sun, which can live for billions of years. But millions of years after the black hole ejected them, the two stars merged. So HE 0437-5439 has trekked most of its 200,000 light-years as a youthful pair of suns—but now, as an aged blue giant, it's quickly dying.
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