News FocusAstrophysics

Ashes to Ashes: The Inner Lives of Neutron Stars

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Science  27 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5590, pp. 2199-2201
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5590.2199

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CHICAGO, ILLINOIS-- Powerful and unpredictable flares of energy called superbursts strike beneath the surfaces of a few special neutron stars--the dense, spinning corpses of stars that died in supernova explosions. Orbiting telescopes have spotted seven superbursts so far, spouting intense x-rays for hours. Even more compelling than the fireworks is the root cause: a thermonuclear flash of heavy elements, burning in ways that might occur nowhere else.