Space Scientists Watch As Red Giant Bring Dead Zombie Star Back To Life

March 19, 2018 6:36 am Last Updated: March 19, 2018 6:55 am

The European Space Agency’s INTEGRAL space observatory recently witnessed an astounding space happening, watching as a red giant brought its dead neutron star neighbor back to life.

A slow-spinning zombie star was revived by X-ray flares from its swollen neighbor, according to the ESA.

The observations revealed a neutron star that had likely just begun to feed on material from a neighboring red giant.

According to ESA, red giants are formed when massive stars—the size of our sun and up to eight times bigger—transform towards the end of their lives. Their outer layers puff up and expand by millions of miles.

But while this is relatively common, it is very rare for a red giant and a neutron star to be paired in what scientists call a “symbiotic X-ray binary.”

“INTEGRAL caught a unique moment in the birth of a rare binary system,” says Enrico Bozzo from the University of Geneva and lead author of the paper that describes the discovery.

“The red giant released a sufficiently dense slow wind to feed its neutron star companion, giving rise to high-energy emission from the dead stellar core for the first time,” he said.