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B. 'Strange Quark Matter' Discovered at Core of Star

Narrator: This is Science Today. Astronomers monitoring data gathered by NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory have discovered what may be a new type of star - one that is possibly made up of particles known as quarks, the basic building blocks of matter. For years now, physicists - including Daniel Cebra, of the University of California, Davis - have been studying quarks to gain better insight into how the universe was created.

Cebra: To put this whole thing in a framework, we're trying to understand big bang cosmology and matter at the very beginning of time.

Narrator: Cebra says normal matter consists of protons and neutrons, but going back in time, when conditions were hotter and denser, protons and neutrons were broken apart into quarks. NASA's discovery that a star may be composed of quarks is significant because these particles were thought to have just a fleeting existence after a high-energy collision.

Cebra: To understand the overall behavior of nuclear matter, even at the cores of massive objects, allows us a better understanding of the universe as a whole.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.