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BUBBLING RED GIANT

Recently, astronomers have seen giant bubbles churning on the surface of a star beyond our solar system. This is a first in observing our interstellar neighbors. The bubbles are so huge individually, by comparison, that they would extend from our sun to Venus.

These astronomers used the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) Very Large Telescope to make this observation, along with an instrument called PIONIER (Precision Integrated-Optics Near-infrared Imaging ExpeRiment).

The star is Pi1 Gruis, a cool red giant located 530 light years from Earth. It has about the same mass as our own sun, but is 700 times larger and thousands of times as bright.

It is believed that our sun will swell up and become a similar red giant star in about five billion years.

 

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