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This extreme star might have huge tidal waves

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Like ocean surf smashing on a sandy beach, enormous waves of plasma may crash onto the surface of one massive star.

The star is part of a pair, stretched and pulled by its companion’s gravity. That gravitational tug-of-war causes the star’s brightness to change drastically and rhythmically. Now, a computer simulation suggests that this steady heartbeat of starlight is caused by giant tidal waves undulating and breaking on the star’s surface, researchers report August 10 in Nature Astronomy. The height of the waves could be up to three times the diameter of the sun.

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