I'm not sure if this has been reported elsewhere. See for example Fred Kline's comment on quid's answer at https://mathoverflow.net/questions/104608/need-help-defining-placeholders-for-primes

The source is:

I expect I will go with $p^{*}$ and if I need to square it, I could do: $(p^{*})^2$.  I think I'll accept this answer.


It is of course caused by the pair of *'s in consecutive pieces of maths. Trying the old trick (as a moderator I can edit comments, mwahaha) of backticks just causes the math to display literally in a fixed width font.

• $p^{ * }$ test $(p^{ *})^2$ Jun 27, 2013 at 5:25
• It's a problem with the markdown parser, it replaces the '*s' with '<i>' tags. I'm looking into it
– m0sa StaffMod
Jul 1, 2013 at 16:09

Fixed in build rev 2013.7.2.799. From this build on special characters between $signs won't need to be escaped in comments. However I should note that this breaks some existing comments that escaped special characters: $p^{\*}$test$(p^{\*})^2$ The above markup in existing comments renders the same as in posts:$p^{\*}$test$(p^{\*})^2$, and can be rewritten as $p^{*}$test$(p^{*})^2$ Interesting, I've never come across this problem on Physics.SE (and I just confirmed, it does exist). Maybe because I don't use the asterisk for anything (\bar for complex conjugate for me) Fortunately, there's a workaround, simply pad the asterisk on both sides with a space. LaTeX usually is OK with extra spaces in the mix. $p^{ * }$test$(p^{ *}))^2$ The same problem does not occur with underscores ($p_{1}$test$p_{2}\$), so this is probably something fixable.
• A more versatile workaround is to use \ast. Jul 2, 2013 at 13:24