EMBARGOED UNTIL: 1:00 p.m. (EST) November 9, 2000

Hubble Sees Bare Neutron Star Streaking Across Space

It's as big as Manhattan Island, is 10 trillion times denser than steel, and is hurtling our way at speeds over 100 times faster than a supersonic jet. An alien spaceship? No, it's a runaway neutron star, called RX J185635-3754, forged in a stellar explosion that was visible to our ancestors in 1 million B.C. Precise observations made with the Hubble telescope confirm that the interstellar interloper is the closest neutron star ever seen. The object also doesn't have a companion star that would affect its appearance. Now located 200 light-years away in the southern constellation Corona Australis, it will swing by Earth at a safe distance of 170 light-years in about 300,000 years.

Credit: NASA and F.M. Walter (State University of New York at Stony Brook)


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