BBC Earth (Asia) - - Update | The Latest Intelligence -

What’s that? The multi-headed ser­pent killed by Her­a­cles?

Nope. It’s a red gi­ant star, lo­cated 320 light-years from Earth in the con­stel­la­tion of Hy­dra, that was re­cently ob­served in un­prece­dented de­tail by re­searchers at the ALMA Ob­ser­va­tory in Chile.

What’s spe­cial about it?

When it started life, W Hydrae had a very sim­i­lar mass to the Sun, mak­ing it an ideal sub­ject to study to learn more about the ul­ti­mate fate of our So­lar Sys­tem’s own star.

Tell me more!

Stars like the Sun age over many bil­lions of years. As they reach old age they swell up, be­com­ing larger and cooler as they grow, and los­ing mass thanks to the ac­tion of so­lar winds. Dur­ing this stage, they re­lease el­e­ments for the for­ma­tion of new stars and even life, such as car­bon and ni­tro­gen, into space.

Cur­rently, W Hydrae is around twice the size of the Earth’s or­bit around the Sun.

So what’s next?

The team plan to take fur­ther, more ac­cu­rate, im­ages in or­der to study how the pro­cesses change as the star ages.

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