An image from the Hubble space telescope released by the European Space Agency shows a dying star, roughly the same mass as the Sun, giving scientists a clue as to how the world as we know it could end.
The image of intricate swirls of gas offer a glimpse of the Sun’s distant future. In 5 billion years’ time, it will be dying and is expected to behave in the same way as in the main image shown, shedding its outer layers to reveal the burning core, which then becomes a slowly cooling ember known as a white dwarf.
As a star ages, the nuclear reactions that keep it shining begin to falter. This uncertain energy generation causes the stars to pulsate in an irregular way, casting off its outer layers into space. As the star sheds these outer gases, the super-hot core is revealed. It gives off huge quantities of ultraviolet light, and this radiation causes the gas shells to glow, creating the fragile beauty of the nebula.
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