Deep in our galaxy’s center, there’s a strange glow made up of high-energy x-rays — and the probable cause sounds straight out of the greatest B-grade horror flick ever made: Zombie stars.
NASA spotted the x-ray glow with its NuSTAR telescope array. X-rays in the area aren’t uncommon, but this particular patch was different: stronger, brighter, more intense than anything surrounding it, and, strangest of all, seemingly with no cause.
Now, researchers have come up with a series of ideas that might explain them, and almost all of them involve dying stars that feast on their neighbors:
Astronomers have four potential theories to explain the baffling X-ray glow, three of which involve different classes of stellar corpses. When stars die, they don’t always go quietly into the night. Unlike stars like our sun, collapsed dead stars that belong to stellar pairs, or binaries, can siphon matter from their companions. This zombie-like “feeding” process differs depending on the nature of the normal star, but the result may be an eruption of X-rays.
Of course, they also note that there’s also the much less exotic possibility that we’re just seeing the interaction of cosmic rays with the surrounding space in previously unknown ways. The only way to know for sure, is to keep on watching this particular space-zombie movie right up to its bitter end.