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C. A Neutron Star Theory Gains NASA Support

Narrator: This is Science Today. Neutron stars are the spinning, very compact remains of a more massive, exploded star. Physics professor Lars Bildsten of the University of California, Santa Barbara, developed a theory about the rotation rates of a neutron star, which recently received NASA support.

Bildsten: Many of these neutron stars are actually in binaries, where they are orbiting if you will, another star - much like the Sun. And those two stars orbiting each other are orbiting so close, the neutron star and a star like the Sun - that matter from the normal star is pulled off by the tidal field, forms a disc of matter around the neutron star and when that matter hits the neutron star, it forces it to spin up.

Narrator: The question left is what halts that spin up? Bildsten theorized the matter around the star causes it to slightly deform and send out ripples, or gravitational waves and these essentially set a 'speed limit' on the neutron star's rotation rate. While NASA supports the theory, the definitive test is about six years away. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.