The birth of a neutron star is known to be accompanied by a single burst of neutrinos. But when the team examined data from two neutrino detectors – Kamiokande II in Japan and Irvine-Michigan-Brookhaven in the US – they found that SN 1987A gave off two separate bursts. “There is a significant time delay between [the bursts recorded by] these two detectors,” says Cheng. They believe the first burst was released when a neutron star formed, while the second was triggered seconds later by its collapse into a quark star. The results will appear in The Astrophysical Journal (www.arxiv.org/abs/0902.0653v1).
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