No, I’m not talking about the space vampire featured in an episode of the BUCK ROGERS IN THE 25th CENTURY television show from the 80s. (The episode, entitled “Space Vampire,” is an obvious homage to-slash-blatant rip-off of—it really depends on your perspective—Bram Stoker’s DRACULA, with a tad of NOSFERATU thrown in for good measure, which is only appropriate as NOSFERATU itself is an obvious homage to-slash-blatant rip-off of the novel. Yeah, okay, it was more on the blatant rip-off side, but it’s still a magnificent movie.) This particular space vampire is an actual star, given the flamboyant name SMSS J160540.18-144323.1. It is a red giant star 35,000 light years from Earth. That’s a fair distance. Take you a while to walk that.
The age of stars is measured by the amounts of iron they contain. The first stars formed after the Big Bang contain almost none. Scientists say that SMSS J160540.18-144323.1 is “incredibly anaemic…in this star, just one atom in every 50 billion is iron—that’s like one drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool.” So it’s really old, but where’s the vampire connection? Because SMSS J160540.18-144323.1 died, that’s why. It went supernova. But then it came back to life. “We think the supernova energy of the…star was so low that most of the heavier elements fell back into a very dense remnant created by the explosion.” And then it flamed back into life, with its original dead self remaining as its heart. It thus qualifies more as a vampire than a zombie, since it’s only currently dead on the inside. You can’t tell just by looking exactly what it is.