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X-Ray Binaries

In these systems, ultradense neutron stars feed on their more sedate companions. Such stellar cannibalism produces brilliant outpourings of x-rays and drastically alters the evolution of both stars

By Edward P. J. van den Heuvel and Jan van Paradijs

When Stars Collide

When two stars smash into each other, it can be a very pretty sight (as long as you're not too close by). These occurrences were once considered impossible, but they have turned out to be common in certain galactic neighborhoods

By Michael Shara

The Stellar Dynamo

Sunspot cycles--on other stars--are helping astronomers study the sun's variations and the ways they might affect Earth

By Dmitry Sokoloff, Elizabeth Nesme-Ribes and Sallie L. Baliunas

The Fury of Solar Storms

Shock waves from the sun can trigger severe turbulence in the space around earth, endangering satellites and astronauts in orbit. A novel spacecraft is showing how space storms develop

By James L. Burch

The First Stars in the Universe

Exceptionally massive and bright, the earliest stars changed the course of cosmic history

By Richard B. Larson and Volker Bromm

The Discovery of Brown Dwarfs

Less massive than stars but more massive than planets, brown dwarfs were long assumed to be rare. New sky surveys, however, show that the objects may be as common as stars

By Gibor Basri

Supersoft X-Ray Stars and Supernovae

Several years ago astronomers came across a new type of starthat spews out unusually low energy x-rays. These so-called supersoft sources are now thought to be white dwarf stars that cannibalize their stellar companions and then, in many cases, explode

By Edward P. J. van den Heuvel, Peter Kahabka and Saul A. Rappaport


Some stars are magnetized so intensely that they emit huge bursts of magnetic energy and alter the very nature of the quantum vacuum

By Christopher Thompson, Chryssa Kouveliotou and Robert C. Duncan

Companions to Young Stars

The surprising finding that even the youngest stars commonly exist in sets of two or three has revised thinking about the birth of star systems

By Alan P. Boss

Binary Neutron Stars

These paired stellar remnants supply exquisite confirmations of general relativity. Their inevitable collapse produces what may be the strongest explosions in the universe

By Tsvi Piran


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