Collider in the sky

Star system accelerates protons to energies rivaling the LHC

By Ron Cowen, 15:23 PM December 9, 2010

HEIDELBERG, Germany — Physicists toiling at the Large Hadron Collider now have a heavenly rival. Protons caught between two fierce stellar furnaces are being boosted to energies comparable to those that can be attained at the world’s most powerful atom smasher, a new study suggests.

The two orbiting stars — among the most massive known in the galaxy — together form the Eta Carinae star system, some 7,500 light-years from Earth. Massive stars expel dense winds of material; Eta Carinae casts ou...

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