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.

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

2 Answers 2


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.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ A more versatile workaround is to use \ast. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2013 at 13:24

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