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.

X-ray binary

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.

radio burst over the Parkes telescope

Mystery Signals from Space

Four powerful radio bursts have left astronomers scratching their heads. The bursts appear to come from several billion light-years away and could provide a whole new look at the universe — but observers aren't sure what they are.

white_dwarf_binary_70px

Sneaky Star Dating

How old are the Sun's stellar neighbors? An inventive approach suggests that the birth rate for the nearest stars has had two peaks instead of one — meaning two distinct generations are mixing in the neighborhood.

NGC 3766

Surprise Variable Stars

Astronomers have discovered an unexpected class of variable stars in the open cluster NGC 3766. The stars are problematic for current theories of star behavior and raise perplexing questions about why the stars are variable at all.

An artist's rendering of the hot Jupiter HAT-P-7b.

How to Toast a Planet

A new study suggests that close-in gas giants may heat up electrically like toaster coils plugged in to their host stars via the power lines of the stellar wind — explaning why the planets inflate.