From astrobites: “Wonderful Miras in the Heart of the Galaxy”

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Astrobites

May 24, 2017
Matthew Green

Title: Discovery of carbon-rich Miras in the Galactic bulge
Authors: Noriyuki Matsunaga, John W. Menzies, Michael W. Feast, et al.
First Author’s Institution: Department of Astronomy, University of Tokyo, Japan
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Status: Accepted to MNRAS, open access

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Figure 1: The tail of material ejected from Mira’s atmosphere stretches 13 lightyears behind it. This image was taken in the UV. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/C. Martin (Caltech)/M. Seibert(OCIW), edited by earthsky.org.

Mira-type variables are stars at the very end of their lifetimes: giant stars in the process of throwing off their outer layers. They consist of a dense core not much bigger than the Earth, several onion-like layers of burning hydrogen and helium, and a puffed-up outer layer which is only loosely bound to the star. They pulsate on periods lasting several months or years, and cast away a bit more of their atmosphere on each pulsation. The first known member of this class, Mira itself (known as Mira ‘the wonderful’ to early astronomers because of the way it seemed to appear and disappear annually), is followed by an amazing, comet-like tail of matter stretching thirteen lightyears behind it (see for yourself in Figure 1). Once the atmosphere is completely stripped, all that is left will be the dense core which will evolve into a white dwarf.

See the full article here .

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