Chasing A Star Named MIRA — A Star’s Tail

By | January 30, 2009

Astronomers found a tail of carbon, oxygen, and other material trailing behind a dying star called Mira. People have watched the star break down for 400 years, but only recently have astronomers noticed that it is leaving material behind as it cruises through the universe at 80 miles per second. When viewed with ultraviolet imaging from a satellite, Mira displays a wake four times the diameter of the moon, material that may one day build new solar systems, such as carbon and oxygen.

An amazing new find by astronomers may show us a whole new planetary system being formed. Past the moon and Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, 350 light-years from Earth … a speeding bullet is hurling across space. This star is known as MIRA.

Astronomers have been studying it for 400 years — scientists are now getting a good look at what it’s leaving behind.

“No star has ever shown a tail like this before,” Chris Martin, Ph.D., astronomer at the California Institute of Technology told Ivanhoe.

Dr. Martin is one of the first to witness the comet-like tail of MRA. He saw it streaking across the sky through the galaxy evolution explorer — a satellite sensitive to ultraviolet light.

“We noticed around the star was this, a little bit of fluff that no one knew was there,” Dr. Martin said.

As MIRA speeds along at 291 thousand miles an hour, it sheds carbon, oxygen and other important elements needed to form new stars, planets and possibly even life.

“We’re seeing this process of reseeding the gas between the stars with heavy elements that ultimately form new solar systems,” Dr. Martin said. …

via Chasing A Star Named MIRA — Astronomers Look At Ultraviolet Light To Find Star’s Tail.

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