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Space Science

Dying Star Mimics Our Sun's Death 149

Posted by kdawson
from the telltale-heart dept.
coondoggie writes "In about 5 billion years, our Sun will face a nasty death. Scientists with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics this week released dramatic new pictures of a dying star much like the Sun, about 550 light-years from Earth. According to the researchers, Chi Cygni has swollen in size to become a red giant star so large that if it were in our solar system it would swallow every planet out to Mars and cook the asteroid belt. The star has started to pulse dramatically, beating like a giant heart with a period of 408 days." The research team produced a video of the pulsating star, using infrared images captured via very long baseline interferometry.
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Dying Star Mimics Our Sun's Death

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  • Link to images, etc. (Score:5, Informative)

    by severn2j (209810) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:11AM (#30455094)
    For those that cant follow links to the source, the images/mov and artists impression is here

    http://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/2009/pr200923_images.html
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:59AM (#30455266)

    Our sun hasn't died yet, so shouldn't it be the other way around? In a few billion years, our sun will mimic the death of this star.

    Alright, I'm done being pedantic now.

  • Re:Weird video...? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:20AM (#30455746)

    I assume that the star is tilted relative to us and there's some anisotropy of the atmosphere due to its oblate shape. If the poles were hotter and one was tilted at us, I guess.

  • Re:Do we care? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrsquid0 (1335303) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @07:48AM (#30455928) Homepage

    The Sun is slowly getting hotter (over timescales of hundreds of millions of years) due to changes in the composition of its core. In about one billion years this increase in temperature will be enough to have boiled off Earth's oceans making Earth a dead planet. This will happen long before the Sun becomes a red giant, so unfortunately there will be no humans around to witness it, unless if we leave first and pay a visit to watch Sol's demise.

  • Re:Do we care? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @08:27AM (#30456214)

    Disagree. I think a small human population (in the millions) will be around on Earth to witness the event.

    I don't think the future humans will call themselves homo sapiens sapiens within a half a million years, let alone few billion. Whatever the species will be which will witness the event form sufficient distance, they need to be able to live past the event for it to have some significance.
    Our beloved Milky Way will collide with the Andromeda in about 2 billion years like an intergalactic ejaculation. If the Earth has not been sterilized by asteroids by then, perhaps the radiation resulting from the collision will finish the job.

  • by ogre7299 (229737) <jjtobin@[ ]ch.edu ['umi' in gap]> on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @10:10AM (#30457076)

    Just a minor correction. the scientists did use interferometry but it was not "very long baseline interferometry". The "very long" term applies to the telescopes being separated by extreme distances, say over the entire United States as is the case of the VLBA. Also, the VLBA can only function in radio wavelengths because the data can be taken at the individual telescopes an recombined later. With near-infrared interferometry, what the authors of this study were using, requires that the light from each telescope be sent down an optical tube with mirrors and recombined at a central location which constrains the IOTA telescopes to be close together.

    IOTA was dismantled a few years ago, geiven that a new optical/near-infrared interferometry was coming online, CHARA http://www.chara.gsu.edu/CHARA/ [gsu.edu]

  • Re:good job (Score:3, Informative)

    by Golddess (1361003) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @03:19PM (#30461862)
    Fail.

    It was American Dad.
  • Re:Do we care? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dryeo (100693) on Wednesday December 16, 2009 @05:47PM (#30464562)

    Right now the only way known to move the Earth would involve repeated close flybys with an asteroid which would by its nature be very slow. Something that would need to be started soon in a geological sense.
    I don't think tides would be too much of a problem if Mars was orbiting at maybe 3 times the distance of the Moon or whatever distance would be roughly equal gravitationally to the Moon.
    Of course we would probably have to move the Moon as well to make the orbital mechanics simpler depending on how far the Moon has moved away from the Earth due to tidal friction.
    Article on moving the Earth, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/planetearth/earth_move_010207.html [space.com]
    Also this is interesting, http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/solarsystem/death_of_earth_000224.html [space.com]

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