Vampire Stars and Franken-Galaxies: The Spookiest Things in Outer Space

Image: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni
Image: NASA/STScI Digitized Sky Survey/Noel Carboni
Halloween is all about irreverently confronting our greatest fears, from the inevitability of death to the slow march of candy-induced tooth decay. But though witches, ghosts, zombies, chainsaw-massacres, and Trump masks make for adequately scary symbols of the season, they pale in comparison to the frightfest offered by the wider universe.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

Out there beyond our skies, galaxies eat each other alive and the light of long-dead stars shines on like a spectral cemetery. There are eerie pareidolic apparitions written with the guts of exploded stars, and worlds more hellish than anything dreamed up on our tranquil little planet.

In that spirit, here’s our guide to some of the most Halloweeny of astronomical phenomena, running the gamut from flesh-vaporizing lava planets to Orwellian nightmare nebulas. Enjoy the good old-fashioned existential cosmic dread.

Zombie Stars

We have zombie movies, zombie television shows, zombie comic books, zombie games, zombie reboots of classic literary works, and “Zombie” by the Cranberries. Should we draw the line at zombie stars?

No, said the universe. The term “zombie” has been applied to a few different types of star systems, but the most well-known scenario involves a low-mass white dwarf star exploding in a Type Iax supernova, which means that the star survives what is normally a fatal blast. After that, it is deemed an undead zombie star.

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