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"Zombie" neutron star revived by swollen red giant

Published: 8 March 2018
A red giant interacting with a dead star. Credit: ESA

Astronomers have observed a red giant star breathing life into a dead companion in the birth of a rare binary system.

The puzzling finding, which was identified using the European Space Agency’s Integral space observatory, has been analysed using the SMARTnet community of global astronomers initiated by the University of Southampton.

Associate Professor Dr Poshak Gandhi, from Southampton’s Astronomy Group and co-author of the new study in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, has welcomed the revelation as a “great example of discoveries waiting to be made in the field of extreme astrophysics”.

Astronomers observed a flash of X-rays as winds emitted by the swollen red giant star revived the slow-spinning core of a neighbouring dead star.

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