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A dying star weaves a spiral in the night

10 Oct 2012, 17:01 UTC
A dying star weaves a spiral in the night
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

The number of ways stars can find to die bizarre deaths will never cease to amaze me.
Some explode, supernovae which blast radiation across the Universe. Others fade away slowly over hundreds of billions of years, longer than the cosmos has been around. Some blow off winds of gas and dust, taking on strange shapes from perfect spherical shells to elongated structures that look like two jellyfish kissing.
And then some – a very few – are like R Sculptoris, a red giant on the thin hairy edge of death. And its death is both spectacular as well as just plain old damned weird.
Check THIS out:

This is not a drawing! It’s actual data, observations of R Sculptoris made using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). ALMA looks at light far too low energy for our eyes to see; it’s actually out past infrared in the spectrum. Cold dust and gas emits light at this wavelength, including carbon monoxide. That molecule is created copiously in red giants and shines brightly in the submillimeter, ...

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