Stellar Science

Most of the lights we see in the night sky with our naked eye are stars, and stars have always been at the heart of astronomy. We use telescopes to peer through dusty gas to see young stars forming, and we watch in awe as old stars explode in supernovae. Stars die to become white dwarfs, neutron stars, pulsars, and black holes, but the ways these metamorphoses work still perplex astronomers.

Keep up to date on the latest discoveries in our study of the stars. From new classes of variables to the brilliant smashup of two neutron stars, we bring you news on how stars are born, live, and die in the universe.

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The Purest Star Tells an Ancient Tale

Astronomers have discovered the purest star to date. Composed almost exclusively of hydrogen and helium — with 15 million times less iron than our Sun — it illuminates what happened among the first supernovae in the early universe.

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Red Sky for Brown Dwarf

Astronomers have discovered a new “failed star” with unusually red, dusty skies. The dust makes the object look much younger than it actually is, complicating studies of this type of brown dwarf.

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New Cutoff for Star Sizes

Astronomers have found a size gap between stars that fuse hydrogen in their cores and so-called failed stars, which never muster the ability to sustain fusion. This boundary could help observers precisely identify the smallest stellar citizens.

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The Crab’s Surprise Molecule

Astronomers have identified a molecule containing the noble gas argon in the Crab Nebula. It's the first such molecule detected in space and confirms predictions of where a certain argon isotope is created in the cosmos.

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Triple Collision in Infant Galaxy

A complex of three bright, star-forming clumps called Himiko is merging in the early universe. With its light reaching us from when the universe was only 800 million years old, this primordial galaxy could yield insight into the elusive process of early galaxy formation.

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Pulsar on the Fence

Astronomers have discovered a neutron star that switches between X-ray and radio emission within a few days. The find is fabulous news for theorists, who have long predicted that the two pulsar types were connected.

Sunspot and granulation from Hinode

Old, Fat Stars Flicker

Observing the pattern of flickers in a star’s light offers a new way for astronomers to measure one of the basic properties of stars — and any exoplanets they might host.

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Dead Stars Caught Colliding

Astronomers have detected a signal that looks like it's from two neutron stars crashing together. The observations could be solid evidence for the hypothesized culprits of short gamma-ray bursts.

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The Sun’s Heat Wave

Astronomers at the American Astronomical Society's Solar Physics Division meeting discussed new evidence that magnetic waves are the reason our star's corona is blazing hot.