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Star gas

26 August 2011

William Thompson sent the following link, http://newsinfo.nd.edu/news/25691/, which is Notre Dame University. It seems that two of its astrophysicists, N Lehner and C Hawk, have published a paper in Science (August 26th) that is important in our understanding of how stars are made – continuously. The same story can be seen at www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110825164931.htm and at www.physorg.com/print233510806.html. Using a Cosmic Origins Spectrograph, an instrument onboard the NASA/ ESA Hubble Space Telescope, they have managed to measure the distances to fast moving clouds of ionised gas previously seen covering a large part of the sky – in the distant reaches of the Milky Way. This is thought to feed star formation – hence, it is necessary that new stars are being produced all the time. As such, the gas it thought to provide the Milky Way with the ability to go on producing more and more stars.

Meanwhile, at www.physorg.com/print233498603.html a former star that is now a small planet is the subject matter (and the same story appears on a variety of internet sources such as www.dailygalaxy.com August 26th). This planet, it is argued, is made of diamond – or calculations appear to indicate that is the situation. This giant sparkler has a less sparkling kind of history (from a paper in the same issue, above, of Science). The planet is orbiting a pusar – in the constellation of Serpens. The planet orbits the pulsar in 2 hours 10 minutes, and the distance between the two is 600,000km. It is hypothesized that it was once a massive star – its matter mostly siphoned off by the pulsar, leaving a diamond core. 

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