Cannibal stars at the heart of the Milky Way stay young in a gruesome way

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Scientists have discovered the gruesome secret behind the apparent youth of some of stars at the heart of the Milky Way — stars participating in a sort of cosmic demolition derby around our galaxy’s supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A*.

Like a cosmic version of 17th-century serial killer Elizabeth Bathory, who supposedly sought to maintain her youthful glow by bathing in the blood of her victims, some of these stars seem to stay looking young by slamming into their neighbor stars and coating themselves in the stolen stellar material. This cannibalistic process leaves the stellar victim as a strange, stripped “zombie” star as well as dooms the cannibal star to an early death.

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