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Researchers Discover Unusual Activity Surrounding Familiar Star

April 16, 1998

A burst of X-rays and radio waves from the star CI Camelopardalis indicates that the well-known star, which is roughly 3,000 light-years from Earth, is part of an unusual binary system. Research released Wednesday indicates that its companion is either a black hole or a neutron star.

Similar bursts from other binary systems have been observed in the past, but those have lasted a year or more. This burst peaked 10 hours after it began and faded within two days--highly unusual behavior, according to astronomer R. Mark Wagner of Ohio State University. CI Camelopardalis is already thought to be unusual because its spectrum indicates the presence of unusually large amounts of iron, but researchers do not know why the flare subsided so quickly.

Compiled by Times medical writer Thomas H. Maugh II

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