Astronomy Picture of the Day

Mira: The Wonderful Star

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#73297 by @ 06.05.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
Mira: The Wonderful Star


To seventeenth century astronomers,
Mira was
as a wonderful star - a star whose brightness could change
dramatically in the course of about 11 months.

Modern astronomers now recognize an entire class of long period
Mira-type variables as cool,
pulsating, red giant stars, 700 or so times the diameter of the Sun.

Only 420 light-years away,
giant Mira
(Mira A, right) itself
co-orbits with a companion star, a small white dwarf (Mira B).

Mira B is surrounded by a disk of material drawn from the pulsating
giant and in such a double star system, the white dwarf star's
hot accretion disk
is expected to produce
some x-rays.

But this sharp,
false-color image
from the Chandra Observatory also
captures the cool giant star strongly
flaring at
x-ray energies, clearly
separated from the x-ray emission of its companion's accretion disk.

Placing your cursor over the Chandra x-ray image of Mira will reveal
an artist's vision of this still wonderful
interacting binary star system.

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