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Runaway star giant hurtles towards earth.

Byline: John von Radowitz

It is ten trillion times more dense than steel, the size of Manhattan Island, and hurtling through space towards us.

The object, travelling more than 100 times faster than a supersonic jet, is not an asteroid or comet but something far stranger - a runaway neutron star, astronomers say.

RX J185635-3754, as it has been categorised, is the ashen core of a massive star that exploded with a force powerful enough for our distant ancestors to have seen it in one million BC.

It is also the closest neutron star ever found. Now located 200 light years away in the southern constellation of Corona Australis, it will swing past our Solar System in about 300,000 years time - missing the Earth by a safe 170 light years.

A neutron star is what remains after a star beyond a certain size dies in a huge cosmic explosion called a supernova.

Matter at the centre of the star is compressed down to a point where the protons and electrons in its atoms merge to make neutrons.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Nov 11, 2000
Words:177
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