Science: Unpredictable Stars

Not all stars twinkle steadily night after night. Some regularly fade away, then suddenly flare up again with undiminished brilliance. Others grow dim quickly, unpredictably, then gradually regain their former radiance. The latter type of variable star has long puzzled astronomers, since its spectrum at its dullest shows little change, indicates that no fundamental alteration has occurred. Prime example is R Coronae Borealis. Reappearance is slow, sometimes taking many months. Last week John O'Keefe of the Harvard Observatory published an explanation for the behavior of R Coronae Borealis in The Telescope....

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