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News Link • Space Travel and Exploration

Astronomers Catch A Crazy Spiral Structure Around Dying Star

•, Randy Astaiza
 The image below is of a newly discovered, and utterly surprising, spiral structure in the material around the red giant star R Sculptoris, 780 light-years from Earth. Scientists used to think the gassy red giant star was just a shell with splotchy innards, but the incredible new picture has revealed its spiral nature.

The researchers think that this amazing sight, caught by the new Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array — a telescope composed of 66 antennas located in Chile's Atacama desert — was created by the the big red giant when it began expelling large amounts of it's insides, a part of its dying breath. They modeled the solar wind, based on the data from the telescope, and the release of particles seems to have happened about 1,800 years ago and lasted probably 200 years, a press alert from Nature said.

The stellar winds created by the star throwing out its particles may have been sculpted into this odd spiral pattern by a companion star, which we can't see. The team published their findings in the journal Nature today, Oct 9.

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