Bizarre Star Discovered to Have Comet-Like Tail

Johnny Appleseed of the Cosmos

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/C. Martin (Caltech)/M. Seibert(OCIW) – “Johnny Appleseed of the Cosmos

The first star discovered with a comet-like tail was announced today by the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX) team. While exploring the sky in ultraviolet light, GALEX spotted a tail of material streaming behind the binary star Mira, or Omicron Ceti, located 450 light year from the Earth. The red giant member of the binary, Mira A, appears to be ejecting material as it hurtles through the galaxy at 130 kilometers per second (291,000 miles per hour).

The tail visible today stretches nearly 13 light years long, representing an estimated 30,000 years of history. Scientists plan to study the tail to learn more about the evolution of red giants as well as how such tails form in the first place. The discovery came a surprise as such a phenomena had not been predicted before.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a fiction writer and poet, with his first published poem forthcoming later in 2017 from Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey. Richard is also the Downlink Lead for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) team at the University of Arizona. He monitors images of the Martian surface taken by the HiRISE camera located on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in orbit around Mars and helps ensure they process successfully and are validated for quick release to the science community and public. Once upon a time, Richard wrote and edited the science and technology news and commentary website Frontier Channel, hosted the RADIO Frontier Channel podcast, and organized transhumanist clubs. Follow Richard on his website (richardleis.com), on Goodreads (richardleis), his Micro.blog (@richardleis), Twitter (@richardleisjr), and Facebook (richardleisjr).