Meet the Cosmic Tootsie Pop | TIME

The cosmos never stop serving up surprises. The latest is a red giant star with a chewy chocolate center—well, sort of

 

There's a prize hidden inside this red giant

There’s a prize hidden inside this red giant Getty Images

Astronomers have found some pretty strange objects lurking deep in the universe—voracious black holes more massive than a billion suns, lonely planets wandering among the stars, galaxies made almost entirely of dark matter, and more.

 

But what Emily Levesque found just beyond the edge of the Milky Way is arguably the strangest thing yet. “It’s bizarre,” says the University of Colorado, Boulder scientist. “It’s completely nuts.”

 

The nutty thing Levesque and three colleagues discovered looks like an ordinary red giant star, similar in appearance to Betelgeuse, which marks one of Orion’s shoulders. But nestled deep inside, like the yolk of an egg or the chocolate center of a hard-candy Tootsie Pop, is a neutron star—the super-dense remnant left behind when a star explodes. It is, she says, “unlike any star that we’ve ever seen.”

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