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Polluting a Red Supergiant Star with Heavy Elements

8 Oct 2014, 22:00 UTC
Polluting a Red Supergiant Star with Heavy Elements
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A recent study by Levesque et al. (2014) found that the red supergiant star HV 2112 in a nearby galaxy known as the Small Magellanic Cloud is enriched with various peculiar heavy elements. As a result, HV 2112 is postulated to be a Throne-Zytkow Object (TZO). Basically, a TZO is a red supergiant star with a neutron star at its center. The neutron star most likely got there by in-spiralling within the envelope of the red supergiant star, all the way down to the core. The neutron star destroys the red supergiant star’s core and part of the core forms an accretion disk around the neutron star. Temperatures and densities in the accretion disk are high enough to synthesize a range of peculiar heavy elements.HV 2112 is observed to be enriched with heavy elements such as calcium, rubidium, lithium and molybdenum. Although most of these heavy elements can be synthesized by a red supergiant star on its own, the high calcium abundance requires HV 2112 to be a TZO since only in an accretion disk around a neutron star are the temperatures and densities sufficiently high to synthesize calcium. Nevertheless, a study by Sabach & Soker (2014) provides an alternative ...

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