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NASA Spots Runaway Star

Supernova sent Zeta Ophiuchi bolting through space
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 26, 2011 12:32 PM CST

(Newser) – NASA's latest find is a runaway star with about 20 times the mass of our sun, slamming through space at an eye-popping 54,000 miles per hour, reports Space.com. NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) caught Zeta Ophiuchi in a spectacular infrared image that shows a massive star blanketed by an enormous cloud of dust, racing at such velocity that it creates a shockwave in front of it. But it's the infrared that makes the image spectacular, notes Space.com: In the visible light spectrum, Zeta Ophiuchi looks like a dim red star.

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Scientists think the 4-million-year-old star once revolved around another star, and like many a toxic relationship, one imploded, sending the other bolting across time and space. And relatively speaking, time is short for Zeta Ophiuchi: While our sun has an estimated 10 billion years left, the runaway star will explode in another 4 million or so. (Read more NASA stories.)

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