Dying Star Unlocks Life Cycle Mystery

Comet-like tail supports theory that shed matter creates stars
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 16, 2007 3:42 AM CDT
Outer space   (Getty Images)
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(Newser) – Astronomers have recently spotted a dying red giant star trailing material knocked off by winds  created by its high-speed orbit, providing an important clue to the life cycle of stars. Scientists have long theorized that the detritus of old stars become the seeds for new ones, but they've never before seen the process.

The star, called Mira, has been studied for over four centuries but its tail was only recently discovered by researchers using telescopes to spot ultraviolet frequencies. The comet-like stream stretches 20,000 times the distance between Pluto and the sun. Red giants are what average-sized stars like the sun become as they grow old.