What’s in a name?

"See? It rotates and glows... just like a zombie."

I heard on the news today that astronomers have started calling Soft-gamma-ray repeating stars that have exhausted their thermonuclear fusion but continue to spin and generate magnetic fields, “Zombie Stars.”  I guess the thinking goes that the stars are “dead” because they no longer produce fusion, but are “still moving” or “still alive” because they continue to rotate and glow.

Seems a little tenuous to me, but it is probably too much to hope for a star that eats other stars’ brains or something.

A science article about zombie stars (linked above) says that astronomers originally called them “Magnetars.”  When I read that, I thought, “Gee, Magnetars is already a pretty cool name.  Why did they need to lump zombies on top of that?”

Maybe astronomers are under a lot of pressure to come up with cool-sounding names.

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