Sunday, September 6, 2009
I stumbled upon an interesting article by NASA recently. It's about a star that has left a 13-light year trail of debris. Also called "Johnny Appleseed", the star's wake is being recycled into new celestial objects. Mira (pronounced my-rah) was discovered by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer.
"Mira is a highly evolved, "red giant" star near the end of its life. Technically, it is called an asymptotic giant branch star. It is red in color and bloated; for example, if a red giant were to replace our sun, it would engulf everything out to the orbit of Mars. Our sun will mature into a red giant in about 5 billion years."
The reason why Mira has created such an interesting effect in our night sky is due to it moving faster relative to the ambient gases in the Milky Way. The star is moving at a spead of 130 KM/s.