Cosmic Bomb

A curious type of star astonishes astronomers

It wasn't long ago that astronomers had just a handful of heavenly bodies to think about: stars, planets, comets and not much else. But then along came quasars, then pulsars, then black holes--bizarre objects that have made the universe a decidedly more interesting place.

Now another oddball has joined this menagerie of improbable cosmic beasts. On Aug. 27, a burst of electromagnetic energy smashed against the earth's atmosphere, ripping apart air molecules, disrupting radio communications and knocking a couple of satellites temporarily offline. The most likely source of the power surge, scientists announced last week: a starquake on a new kind...

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