Abstract: The existence of a completely new type of star has been uncovered. Anna Zytkow and Kip Thorne proposed the existence of what are now known as Thorne-Zytkow objects (TZO) in 1975. For an outside observer, TZOs look very much like extremely cool and luminous red supergiants. However, they are much redder and brighter than typical red supergiants like Betelgeuse. As an observer travels into the interior of a TZO, instead of finding inside a familiar white dwarf size core, the observer has to travel deeper and discovers that the core of a TZO is a neutron star, much more compact and made of degenerate neutrons. Nuclear reactions which power the TZO are in shells just outside the neutron core and conditions for these reactions are so extreme that they are capable of producing unusual heavy elements as well as some light elements like lithium. This talk will be about the theory of TZOs and why the newly discovered star seems such a good candidate.
Dr. Anna Zytkow received her PhD from the University of Warsaw. She did research at Caltech in Theoretical Astrophysics, then at MIT in Theoretical Astrophysics, and is now at the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge University.
Co-sponsored by the Michigan Center for Theoretical Physics and the Michigan Institute for Research in Astrophysics, and co-funded by the University of Michigan Department of Astronomy, Department of Physics, Atmospheric and Oceanic Space Sciences, and the College of Literature, Science and the Arts.