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NASA Found a Zombie Star in Space

The two inset images show before-and-after images captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of Supernova 2012Z in the spiral galaxy NGC 1309. The white X at the top of the main image marks the location of the supernova in the galaxy.
The two inset images show before-and-after images captured by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope of Supernova 2012Z in the spiral galaxy NGC 1309. The white X at the top of the main image marks the location of the supernova in the galaxy.
Photo courtesy of NASA/ESA

Way out there in the glittering vastness of space, something undead lurks. Yes, NASA astronomers believe they have spotted a zombie star, created in the wake of an unusually weak supernova explosion.

See, the way this usually works is a white dwarf, a dying star, is usually completely obliterated by a supernova, but in this case the explosion was weak. It should have destroyed the white dwarf, but after it was over a husk of a star was left, a zombie star if you will.

Astronomers were examining old images of the star system captured a few years ago by the Hubble telescope when they noticed a blue star was feeding energy to a white dwarf (either the stars were friends or there was already something a little zombie-esque going on before the supernova, but we digress.) The blue star's habit of feeding the white dwarf set off a nuclear reaction and released this weak supernova blast.

This supernova, Type Iax, is less common than its brighter cousin, Type Ia. Astronomers have identified more than 30 of these mini-supernovas that may leave behind a surviving white dwarf. Astronomers have been searching for decades, looking for star systems that produce Type lax supernovas and subsequent walking dead stars.

This particular specimen is located in the host galaxy NGC 1309 which is 110 million light-years away. There haven't been any reports of zombie activity on our own planet since NASA announced the discovery of the zombie star, but NASA just issued the release so there's still a chance for those who have been dreaming -- for whatever strange reason -- of attempting to survive a zombie apocalypse. Of course, modern science and sense and all of that tells us that there's no chance that a zombie star will actually awaken a legion of the undead. But maybe start working on your cardio now, just in case. As noted Zombieland, being faster than the guy next to you is really important when there are zombies around.


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