WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- A large star in its death throes is leaving a huge, turbulent tail of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen in its wake that makes it look like an immense comet hurtling through space, astronomers said on Wednesday.
This dying star is shedding material that will be recycled into new stars, planets and possibly even life.
Nothing like this has ever previously been witnessed in a star, according to scientists who detected it using NASA's Galaxy Evolution Explorer, an orbiting space telescope that observes the cosmos in ultraviolet light.
This tail, spanning a stunning distance of 13 light-years, was detected behind the star Mira, located 350 light-years from Earth in the "whale" constellation Cetus."There's a star with a tail in the tail of the whale," said one of the researchers.
- Rocketing through our Milky Way galaxy at 80 miles per second -- literally faster than a speeding bullet -- the star is spewing material that scientists believe may be recycled into new stars, planets and maybe even life.
- Nothing like this has ever previously been witnessed in a star.
- The tail spans a distance of 13 light-years.
- The tail is made up of oxygen, carbon and nitrogen.