Live Once, Die Twice

Seldom does a star get a chance to watch its binary companion die, twice. Enjoy!

It had spun itself to death.

I look at the pulsar, its tightly packed neutrons now emitting none of the intense magnetic fields I had grown used to. It simply hung there, a sphere of darkness suspended in space and the only evidence of the once mighty star that I had managed to outlive. It had been the larger star among the two of us, and when it exploded into a supernova and then shrunk into a pulsar, I was bathed in lethal radiation that only a star its size could produce.

We had lived in perfect harmony until it had run out of fuel and exploded into a supernova. If surviving the onslaught of the shock wave wasn’t remarkable enough, I had also stuck through intense magnetic fields shot out from the pulsar. Now, after millions of years, there is finally some peace and quiet. I am running out of hydrogen atoms to fuse too, and my outer layers are getting cooler by the year. There is comfort in the thought that I can slip into silence seamlessly.

Then the damnedest of things happened.

I felt my outer layers being sucked by the seemingly dead pulsar. The accretion grew from a faint glow of light to an alarming transfer of matter onto its poles. It began to stir, mercilessly crushing my dream of a happily ever after. It used my matter to gain momentum, picking up speed while I watched helplessly.

Soon, the magnetic fields bolted out from its poles, and the pulsar never seemed to have died in the first place.

And we were back to square one.


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